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Reducing food supply, Part II

Published:

Last Edited: March 12, 2008, 8:31 am

Outlawing domestic food production - for your safety, of course.

It's been a fundamental right since the dawn of man for people to freely grow their own food. It is not discussed that the Great Depression hit hardest in the cities because there was neither jobs nor food, but many people in the rural areas at least were able to grow enough food to feed their families. The same can be said for post-Weimar Germany, and many other places. Those who could feed themselves were best able to ride out the difficult times. They could 'opt-out' of the system for a while and at least barter with other productive people (which leaves the paper-pushers hungry). Oh no, can't have that. The socialists in the EU have come up with a means of making life miserable for people who would be better off left alone, they even admit to possibly increasing poverty, but hey, "de rulez iz de rulez".


A Toast to Tradition
by Ljubica Grozdanovska
28 February 2008

A favorite spirit may be threatened when Macedonia begins
negotiating for EU membership.

LISICE, Macedonia | As the distillation process ends and the
homemade brandy called rakija drips into a pot, all of Stojan's
neighbors gathered in his back yard, waiting to taste the fresh
liquor.

"Cheers!" they shouted in a chorus, celebrating the old Macedonian
tradition of producing the brandy. "It's a really strong one, pure
and warming," Stojan, 62, concluded after taking a sip of his new
batch.

The brandy, which is distilled mostly in private homes, is made from
fermented grapes and usually contains about 50 percent alcohol. For
Macedonians, the joy of rakija is as much in its production as it is
in the drinking. Producers often invite friends to taste the
product, spurring neighborhood parties. The liquor is considered the
national drink among many countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Source of wrath against EU.
Some Macedonians make a living or supplement their incomes by
selling the brandy produced at home, especially in wine regions such
as Tikves in the south. But the brandy's production may diminish
when Macedonia begins negotiating for European Union membership.
Talks could begin as early as late 2008.

According to EU standards, alcohol production must be licensed, and
homemade products put up for sale must carry a tax. Macedonia plans
to begin complying with these standards when accession talks begin.

The majority of rakija producers in Macedonia distill in their own
kitchens or yards, and they currently pay no tax to the government
for their sales. Many are unaware that EU standards would make their
unregulated operations illegal. The government has yet to spread the
word.

The homemade brandy is popular in other countries in the Balkans and
southeastern Europe. When Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, protests
were staged in front of the Parliament in Sofia to demand that
rakija not be taxed. There have also been discussions on the topic
on Internet forums set up in Serbia, another EU hopeful. Some
respondents radically claimed they would prefer dying to joining the
EU, mainly because of limitations on traditions like homemade
alcohol.

"We don't like the EU anymore. Why do we need so many limitations
and standards that only complicate our lives and contribute towards
the loss of our culture and spirit as Macedonians? " said Stojan, who
gave only his first name.

Rakija isn't the only product under threat. Regulations will also be
placed on homemade wines and cheeses put up for sale. Moreover, the
killing of animals for food in private homes will be forbidden.

According to the European Commission, killing outside
slaughterhouses "is restricted to a very limited number of
circumstances, such as disease control." What's more, "approved
methods" of killing must be used in those limited circumstances. All
meat for human consumption, however, must come from licensed
slaughterhouses.

These laws are violated in many EU countries, where traditions
frequently trump health or agricultural regulations, but people risk
being caught and fined if they sell their unregulated products or
slaughter animals.

Macedonia doesn't have official data about the number of people
producing and selling domestic food products. But so ingrained is
the tradition of home production that the numbers are easily in the
thousands.

Many people interviewed said they were unaware that their way of
life may change soon. They worry that the EU standards will smother
their cultural and economic traditions.

NO ONE'S BEEN TOLD
Bojan, 58, from the village of Dracevo, hadn't heard of the looming
EU standards. He started to cry when he learned that he would not be
allowed to slaughter animals for food or produce his own milk and
dairy products for sale.

He lost his job as a locksmith 10 years ago, Bojan said, and home
production is what now brings food to his family's table. Other,
modest income comes from Bojan's work in nearby fields his father
left to him when he died. Bojan had to take out a loan to get a
tractor to work the fields.

In his back yard, Bojan raises chickens, goats, pigs, and a cow. He
uses the animals to feed his family, and he sometimes sells some
eggs, milk, and meat to others. With the money he makes he buys
other goods his family needs.

"We will starve to death if this happens," Bojan said of the coming
regulations. "I've lost my job once, and this is the only way to
secure food for my family." He added that he had thought life would
be better if his country entered the EU.

Other Macedonians who hadn't heard about the regulations refused to
believe it, calling it a joke. They said they will continue to make
products or purchase them from neighbors.

"We won't give up the rakija … the honey, the incredible domestic
cheese – EU or no EU", says Lidija, 29, from Skopje.

"This practically means that besides gaining the possibility to
travel freely [without a visa], everything else is just too much
bureaucracy, " she added, referring to the benefits of EU accession.
The right to visa-free travel in the EU is a perk many Macedonians
are looking forward to, though it could be years in the making.

The government doesn't have a campaign planned to inform the
citizens about the changes that will occur once EU negotiations
start. Officials admitted that the campaign has been delayed in part
because of the possibility that there will be negative reactions
from the citizens, as there were in Bulgaria.

However, officials also claim that like it or not, the clock is
ticking.

"We purposely delayed the solving of this issue because the
tradition of domestic production is a several-centuries- old
tradition," said Zivko Jankulovski, the government's vice president
for agriculture and education. "However, very soon we will have to
start dealing with it."

Jankulovski emphasized that not all domestic production will not be
banned. Although killing animals for meat will be forbidden, other
production will just be regulated.

People will be allowed to produce rakija in their homes, for
instance, if they have a license to do so. They can sell it so long
as they follow new tax requirements.

"There also will be some trainings and exams connected to the right
of producing your own alcoholic drink," Jankulovski said.

Which of the government ministries will be in charge of conducting
an information campaign remains a mystery, but it likely will be the
Agriculture or Economy ministries.

HARD ROAD AHEAD
Jankulovski said it will be very difficult to boost public awareness
of the issue and to calm down the people it upsets. Moreover, it
will be a challenge to change people's habits and force them to stop
their home production or license and tax it.

Experts have said that the introduction of EU standards may have
negative side effects, like increasing poverty in some regions where
people currently rely on domestic food production for extra income.
If the regulations force them out of business or they choose to bow
out on their own for fear of being caught, their income could be
lost.

"Agricultural workers are quite often forced to produce and sell
domestic rakija because there are not enough wineries to buy out the
grapes that they produced," said one agricultural expert, who spoke
on condition on anonymity. "Similar conditions are present in
stockbreeding. "

But some experts have also said there are dangers in domestic
production that the EU standards will help alleviate.

Unregulated stockbreeding allows animals slaughtered for meat to go
unvaccinated, raising concerns that people will consume tainted
meat. Similarly, unregulated production of alcohol and dairy
products put up for sale presents health risks associated with poor
or contaminated ingredients.

Stojan said that while the government should tell people about the
new standards, he won't worry until Macedonia is an EU member – a
development that is years away.

"I'll make my rakija until someone comes in my house and reads the
standards," Stojan declared with a laugh. "But first I'll let
authorities try my homemade rakija and then let them read my
obligations. "

Watching his friends celebrate his brandy, he added: "I'll live for
today."

Ljubica Grozdanovska is a journalist based in Skopje.


How long before it extends to fruits & veggies ... and to our shores? Oh, wait... there's Codex Alimentarius.Cussing Face
Well, you know what I think about where a bureaucrat (on either side of the ocean) can shove his thieving pinche legislation.
Industrious people take all the risk, put in all the work, and pay 50% in taxes, licenses, fees, and the rest is stolen through inflation. At this rate, we'll have to call up our friends in Haiti and ask about a good recipe for dirt cakes (see pac's comments in my Feb. 4, 2008 entry: The world is running out of food)

Yes... I know... you've never heard of Codex. Well, now you have. Do a search. Angry

Entry #79

Comments

1.
jarasanComment by jarasan - March 12, 2008, 10:44 am
The codex alimentarius looks like it started with good intentions. That brandy is excellent and is worth going to war over, I've heard of wars starting over the dumping of tea! I wonder how they plan to enforce that, sounds like they may be going back to serfdom.
2.
time*treatComment by time*treat - March 12, 2008, 3:35 pm
Help social attitudes along by some outbreak traced back to "illegal" wine (or food) production. The cheapest way of enforcement is for them to offer an anonymous tip line. Jealous of your neighbor? Tired of your spouse? Boss?

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