TODAY’S – Proposed bill threatens olive farmers

Proposed bill threatens olive farmersA draft law submitted to Parliament pertaining to the official designation of olive fields could threaten the livelihood of 500,000 farm families in the country, according to news outlets on Sunday.The bill would make it so that olive fields less than two-and-a-half hectares in size would not officially be recognized as such.

This in spite of a European Union code that says for a plot to be considered an olive field it must be at least one hectare. If passed, the bill would allow land that has been used for harvesting olives for hundreds of years to be opened up to energy and mining investment.

Presently, renewable energy facilities must be built at least three kilometers away from an olive field however, the new legislation would remove such limitations.Olive producers and critics of the proposed legislation have said that its passage would be devastating for Turkey’s olive industry.

Producers have complained that since 2002 there have been multiple attempts to alter legislation pertaining to olive production. They argued that the Prime Ministry directly encouraged the proposed legislation in order to reap the benefits of future energy production on the olive fields in order to satisfy nationwide energy demand.

“The law seeks to strip the designation of olive fields that are less than two-and-a-half hectares, although the average size of olive fields in Turkey is one hectare. Some 500,000 olive farmers harvest over 160 million olive trees,” said zden Gungr, head of the Chamber of Agricultural Engineers (ZMO), in a written statement on Sunday.

Olive producers have drafted a petition in opposition to the bill. “As those who are concerned with protecting nature as well as the livelihood of olive producers, we are against this bill.

We hope that everyone, regardless of political affiliation, will sign [the petition],” National Olive and Olive Oil Commission President ummuhan Tibet said.The Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) said in late 2012 that it expects annual exports of olives to reach $3.

8 billion by 2023, a target that is likely to be compromised if the bill passes in Parliament.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman