Farmers protest against the changes in the Law on Agricultural Land, Serbia

New amendments to the Law on Agricultural Land in Serbia allows leas of large portion of arable land to foreign investors, while weakening the positions of the small farmers.


Description

Agriculture is one of the main economic branches in the Republic of Serbia. The vast areas of arable agricultural land in the country are still state-owned. This land is leased out to natural or legal persons, with profit in agriculture depend on the area of cultivated land and not on the amount of invested working capital.

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Basic Data
NameFarmers protest against the changes in the Law on Agricultural Land, Serbia
CountrySerbia
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAccording to the Minister of Agriculture, Serbia has 830.000 ha state-owned agricultural land, 30% of which is leased, while 570.000 ha is still unused.

Lease of 260.000 ha brought profit of 51 million EUR in 2014/2015.
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population15,000-20,000 families
Start Date01/01/2015
End Date29/12/2015
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Republic of Serbia, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFarmers’ organisations from Vojvodina, Nezavisna asocijacija poljoprivrednika Srbije (NAPS); Political parties: League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), Democratic Party (DS), Social Democratic Party (SDS), Movement “Enough is enough” ("Dosta je bilo"); Agricultural experts and scientists.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseThe New Law on Agricultural land was adopted
Development of AlternativesFarmers’ organisations and opposition political parties asked for the withdrawal of the new legislation which they consider unfair to small farmers and creating the conditions for corruption. The protestors demanded a constructive dialogue about the law with decision-makers.

Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Snezana Bogosavljevic Boskovic claimed necessary to bring big investors given that 70% of the state-owned arable land is unused. The protesters claimed the unused areas of land are of low quality for agriculture.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite protests, the New Law on Agricultural land was adopted in December 2015. Further changes in favour of foreign investors are to occur in 2017 due to Serbia’s obligations under the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

The Law on Agricultural Land
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Links

PROTEST POLJOPRIVREDNIKA Pajtić: Ometaćemo primenu zakona, a kada dođemo na vlast raskidamo ugovore
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Danas protest Nezavisne asocijacije poljoprivrednika
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Paori odustali od dolaska u Beograd, protest se nastavlja
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NA TRAKTORIMA U BEOGRAD: Protest Nezavisne asocijacije poljoprivrednika Srbije
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ŠTA DONOSE IZMENE Usvojen Zakon o poljoprivrednom zemljištu
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Šta nam donose izmene i dopune Zakona o poljoprivrednom zemljištu
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Prošao pogubni Zakon o poljoprivrednom zemljištu: Blago u bescenje
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Amendments to the Law on Agricultural Land
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Serbian Farmers Say Land Law ‘Encourages Corruption
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Liberalization of Agricultural Land Transfer in Serbia by September 2017
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Sale of agricultural land to foreigners still uncertain
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Sale Of Serbian Agricultural Land To Foreigners: What Does The Agreement With The EU Really Say?
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Changes to the Agricultural Land Act
[click to view]

Media Links

Održan protest poljoprivrednika ispred Doma Narodne skupštine Srbije
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Other Documents

Farmers protest in front of the Parliament in Belgrade The sign reads "Defend our land"
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Other CommentsThe neighbouring ex-Yugoslav republics had to accept the similar obligations, however these range from exclusion of the application of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) to the acquisition of agricultural land in Croatia to Montenegro's outright giving of the national treatment to EU nationals

Article 63 of the SAA regulates not only sale of Serbian agricultural land to EU nationals, but to the acquisition of real estate in general: "As from the entry into force of this Agreement, Serbia shall authorise, by making full and expedient use of its existing procedures, the acquisition of real estate in Serbia by nationals of Member States of the European Union. Within four years from the entry into force of this Agreement, Serbia shall progressively adjust its legislation concerning the acquisition of real estate in its territory by nationals of the Member States of the European Union to ensure the same treatment as compared to its own nationals."
Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, vankajo(at)gmail.com, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Last update15/01/2017
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