Yesterday, Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture signed an agreement with the representatives of farmers that will enable agricultural reforms to proceed. Under the agreement, there will be a gradual opening up of produce imports, and local growers will receive their safety net in the form of direct support totaling NIS 700 million. Most of the charges for employing foreign workers will be abolished, and the amount that a farmer can deduct from his income for workers’ accommodation will rise.
On protection of flora, it was agreed that the regulations will be set by the Ministry of Agriculture and the mechanism will be taken away from the hands of the farmers. The aim is to synchronize Israeli regulation with the norm in Western countries and to cut bureaucracy for importers. Without such a reform, it will continue to be difficult to import fruits and vegetables, even if the customs duty is zero. It was also agreed that the government will pass a law on labelling of source country, and a law for the encouragement of investment in agriculture.