Democratic Party will support PN motion on transfer of agricultural leases

The party said a complete reform of the land policy and law in favour of professional farming couldn’t be more urgent

The PD said it would be supporting a PN motion looking to amend legal notice 438
The PD said it would be supporting a PN motion looking to amend legal notice 438

The Democratic Party (PD) will be supporting a PN motion looking to amend a legal notice on the agricultural land leases.

Earlier this month, the PN talbed a parliamentary motion calling on the government to amend a legal notice containing a number of provisions, including one that disallows the transfer of an agricultural lease if a building with a footprint greater than 40 sq.m is present on it.

The motion also calls for amendments that would make it easier to transfer leases across generations, proposing that the transfer of agricultural leases be extended to siblings and grand children.  

Reacting to the PN’s proposals, Environment Minister Jose Herrera had said that PN’s proposals would lead to widespread speculation of agricultural land. 

In a statement on Tuesday, PD said that a “complete reform” of land policy and law “in favour of professional farming” couldn’t be more urgent.

“If the present downhill trend continues, it is envisaged that no professional farming will remain in the forthcoming years,” the PD said. “Malta is already a net importer of fruit, vegetables and meat. Agriculture and animal husbandry are hardly sustainable, despite incentives.”

The PD said that successive government had not given the sector due priority, adding that government was “still in time to revise the 2006 rationalised plan where government land is about to built up instead of retaining its agricultural potential.

“Doubts are raised as to whether more could have been achieved during Malta’s accession to the EU. It is a fact that our local produce tastes better and branding should have been introduced,” MEP candidate Martin Cauchi Inglott said.

The PD said it would be supporting the motion presented by the PN in order for there to be a process of “smoother transfer of agricultural land between genuinely interested parties”.

The party added that this alone would not solve the “dilemmas faced by professional farmers”.

It said that other major challenges included “the non-transparent, whole sale vegetable market system at Pitkalija” which it said did not favour the local producer. “Barcoding traceability and grading of product, and fixing of minimum fair price are crucial.”

Furthermore, it urged government to formulate policy that would, encourage professional farming as a career through schooling, protect arable land land, see “Gozo’s eco policy further incentivized by agri-tourism and food production that also includes the middle industry”.