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Chinese agriculture 311.(Photo by: Associated Press)
Agricultural production forecasts reach record heights
By RON FRIEDMAN
10/14/2010
Vilan: Correct agricultural policies will make agriculture one of most important sources of growth in the Israeli market.
The Israeli Farmers Federation issued its 2010 agricultural production forecast on Thursday, estimating a record-breaking NIS 26 billion.

At the same time, farmers’ incomes are anticipated to drop by 10 percent due to higher expenditure costs, decreasing foreign currency rates and natural damage to the crops.

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According to the forecast produced by IFF economist Rachel Boroshek, agricultural production will mark a 2% increase compared to 2009 and reach NIS 26b. After deducting input costs, equipment renewal and labor wages, the farmers are left with NIS 6b., a 10% drop from 2009. According to Borshok, the drop is for the most part due to the increase in the cost of raw materials, especially in the second half of the year, sharp changes in foreign currency rates and natural damage to the produce, in particular as a result of the heat wave that struck Israel at the end of the summer causing the loss of complete harvests in some cases.

In recent weeks Israelis have been feeling the losses as fresh produce prices at supermarkets have been unusually high.

IFF Secretary-General Avshalom Vilan said that the strong growth indicators of agriculture in recent years prove that the eulogies over the Israeli agriculture sector were premature.

“The dramatic rise in worldwide agricultural production, to many people’s surprise, indicates that agriculture will continue to be one of the strongest sectors in both the near and distant future due to the need to feed a continuously growing population and increasing quality of life,” said Vilan.

“The drop in farmers’ income is a serious threat to continued growth since reduced profitability will push farmers out of production. The Israeli farmer has a relative advantage in agriculture because of the accumulation of knowledge that exists here,” said Vilan.

Vilan urged the government to provide support for continued growth by taking measures like insuring water quotas for farmers at fixed prices, honoring labor agreements, providing incentives for replacement of human labor with technology and providing protection from fluctuating currencies.

“Correct agricultural policies will lead to agriculture becoming one of the most important sources of growth in the Israeli market and create new jobs, especially in the periphery,” said Vilan.

The first annual agriculture convention is being held this coming Monday in Kfar Blum to raise the agricultural sector on the public agenda and to mark 150 years of Jewish farming in the region. Among the attendees will be President Shimon Peres, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz.
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