Battle over food prices heads to Finance Ministry

Steinitz says cottage cheese one of many foodstuffs in need of regulation; cattle farmers refuse to participate in talks.

June 23, 2011 11:41
1 minute read.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Ministry of Finance spokesperson)

As the battle over cottage cheese costs continues to dominate the public's agenda, talks commenced Wednesday morning at Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz's Tel Aviv office over ways to combat increasing prices on basic foods.

Steinitz said that cottage cheese is only one of a number of staple foods that have seen a price hike, and that the goal of the meeting was to begin formulating a solution to lowering prices on all foodstuffs.

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Steinitz was meeting with representatives of retail chains, agronomists, and antitrust expert Professor David Gilo, and said the purpose of the meetings was "not to deal with cheese or some other specific product, but rather to check if there is a specific failure, or certain issues in need of repair in the market."

Noticeably absent from the talks were dairy farmers themselves. They have claimed Steinitz is unfairly pinning responsibility on those who rear the cattle, who claim they earn the government-set sum of NIS 2.15 per liter of unprocessed milk. The farmers passed the responsibility for finding a solution to marketing networks and companies producing dairy products, such as Tnuva or Tara, who set prices for the consumer.

This opinion, Israel Radio said, is shared by the Dairy Council and the the Union of Dairy Cattle Farmers, representing some 3,000 families in Israel.

Steinitz, perhaps seeking to discredit the groups' claims, said that "Prime Minister [Binyamin Netanyahu] is involved in the issue. There is no division of responsibility, the full responsibility falls on the government," Army Radio reported. 

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