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News 03 Sep 12

EU Farming Standards Pose Test For Montenegro

Head of agricultural union supports EU parliamentarian's view that agriculture will be one of the most challenging issues in the next stage of Montenegro's European integration talks.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

An EU official's remarks - that Montenegro will have to work hard to modernise agriculture as part of its EU accession process - has recieved backing from a farming leader in the Balkan country.

Jelko Kacin, vice-chairman of the European Parliament's delegation for the Western Balkans, on Thursday said agriculture will be one of the most challenging issues in Montenegro's EU membership talks.

Dragoljub Nenezic, head of the Agricultural Union of Montenegro, agreed, saying that bringing agriculture up to EU standards and making it more competitive will be one of the country's most difficult tasks.

"It took 30 years for Austria to become a net exporter of food instead of net importer, by adopting prudent state policies," he said, adding that the burden of modernisation needs to be split between the state and farmers.

The union chief also noted that for many people farming is an additional occupation and not their primary business.

"There are 50,000 farming households in Montenegro that rely on agriculture to fill the family budget," he recalled.

Farmers must improve production, while the state needs to provide support, by making a clear difference between the "folkloric producers" and those whose principal occupation is agriculture, he continued.

Montenegro opened accession negotiations with the EU on June 29, starting with chapters 23 and 24, dealing with the rule of law, organized crime and corruption.

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