(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
More than 2,000 protesters came out in a show of support on Monday for poultry farmers from the North worried that their livelihoods are at risk.
One of the main things upsetting the demonstrators is recent economic reforms that lowered tariffs for a number of imported food products, including eggs, for the next several months, something that would affect local industry.
Speaking at Moshav Avivim, near the Lebanese border, Israel Farmers Federation secretary Meir Tzur told the group they are fighting a war, but a different one than the one fought against Hezbollah across the border they were facing.
“This is a fight for our homes, for the livelihoods of 2,800 poultry farmers,” he said.
Farmers are the ones protecting the entire country’s borders, and their work protects its existence and sustenance, he added.
Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin, who heads the Knesset Agriculture Lobby, said Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel’s reforms are leading to the destruction of farming and settlements near the northern border. He said Ariel “prefers to serve as a settlement minister and give money to some dark, isolated hills” instead of standing with farmers from the North and fighting against food reforms.
Tension became especially heated after Yaron Mazuz, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, took the stage and said the government has been doing everything the right way, according to a report from those on the scene.
“We came to support you,” he told the group. “This decision did not come from the Likud. It came from the agriculture minister.”
Mazuz said the livelihoods of poultry farmers will not be hurt, promising to discuss the subject with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Shimon Biton, an egg farmer from the moshav, said at the protest that the government is trying to throw them out of their homes, but they will not give up.
“Our region’s Iron Dome is the chicken coop,” he said, alluding to the Iron Dome missile defense system.
MK Oren Hazan, who attended the protest – along with Tzur and MKs Eitan Broshi, Yitzhak Vaknin, Elazar Stern, David Bitan and Nachman Shai – told the crowd he “grew up” on their eggs and will not allow store chains to decide how much money they make.
Former IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu said the issue the egg and poultry farmers have taken up is not just over their incomes but also over the support of “Zionist ethos.”