Modern agriculture is closely connected to important ethical and political issues nowadays, such as changes, environment pollution, use of genetically modified organisms in food production, growing energy crops to the detriment of reducing food-growing areas, and allocation of taxpayer's money. In today's society, there are more and more people that are not directly envolved in agriculture, but are deeply aware of its ambiguous role and non-diminishing importance. I amconvinced that this awareness can be of help to all of us who have been extremely honoured to undertake the responsibility of designing and implementing the agricultural policy, and to perform this demanding task the way we are expected to do it.
The farmer will continue to be in the centre of our interest and we will help that farmer to be as closely connected to the society as possible. How to produce the right product, in the right amount and at the right time at a reasonable price, while at the same time the public expects agriculture to serve the environment and the farmer to play the role of the steward of land and agricultural area? We, at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, believe to have an answer to that major challenge of tomorrow.
When we choose political measures, we try to obtain a proper degree and harmony of the measures we use to increase competitive quality of domestic production, protect farmers' income, provide stabile and adequate offer of food on the market, increase institutional support of the sector and improve different aspects of the rural area. Apart from that, we are engaged in intensive preparations for the membership in the European Union, gradually building a policy framework identical to the one existing in the EU.We have accomplished a lot in a relatively short period of time, but there is much more work to be done as well.We believe that the secret of our success, of which we have no doubt, will be the cooperation of partners in decision making that prepare our agriculture, as well as our society in whole, for the significant change that the membership in theEUshall bring along. The level of Croatian integration in the EU is already extremely high. That is confirmed by the fact that approximately 60% of commercial trade is preformed with the EU countries. I am therefore convinced that the EU membership will ensure to the Croatian agriculture an even faster further building of the sector in accordance with the goals identical to those we ourselves stand for.
There will still be place in our agriculture in the future, as there it is today, for small, mediumsized and large farms. Of course, the land consolidation process in agriculture is stringently following its course all over the world, and Croatia is no exception. However, we are witnesses that even relatively small family farms, armed with knowledge and equipped with modern technology, that are continuing the tradition of food production in their own area, with a lot of love for their work, can be extremely competitive even in the most developed markets, and even meeting demands of such consumers that are the hardest to please. Such specialised small producers and service providers in Croatia are indeed present in the rural area, and there will be more and more of them. Why? Because small and medium-sized farms are the best guarantee of survival and sustainable development of creativity, knowledge and excellence of products and services.
Croatia has a strong food industry with a long tradition, within the regional framework, distinguished by highest food quality and safety standards, offering to the consumers in Croatia and abroad an abundance of top-quality and recognizable agricultural and food products. The best way to check the above statements is to visit us and try for yourselves some of the delicacies that Croatian agriculture has to offer, regardless of the part of Croatia you may choose to visit.
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