Close to five thousand farmers from a number of EU states gathered in Prague on Thursday for a massive protest against a two-track system of EU agricultural payments. Farmers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Lithuania demonstrated against the fact they receive less than their counterparts from older EU member states. Some German and Austrian farmers also took part in the protest in a show of solidarity for what has been billed as the biggest protest by farmers in the last five years. The protest was called in a bid to push the EU into bringing forward the date for equal payments for farmers ahead of the current target of 2013.
Changes transforming state-owned brewery Budějovický Budvar into a shareholder company should be tabled for government discussion in May, Minister of Agriculture Petr Gandalovič announced on Wednesday. The closely followed changes in the brewery’s current status of national corporation are seen as a signal that the brewery is being prepared for privatisation. The minister, who has in the past raised the prospects of bringing in a new shareholder, says the change is needed to update the company regardless of a sale. Gandalovič said the transformation was taking time because care had to be taken to protect Budějovický Budvar’s trademark rights. The Czech brewer is involved in a long-running and costly trademark dispute with US-based brewer Anheuser-Busch over rights to use the Budweiser name.
The minister of agriculture, Petr Gandalovič, is putting forward a plan to help food producers hit by a slowdown in payment and difficulty in securing loans, the news website euro.cz reported. Some CZK 800 million is being earmarked for the programme, which was not included in the recently announced government stimulus package and has to be approved by the cabinet.
Czech farmers made some 9.7 billion crowns (435 million USD) last year, reported the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. This sum is around 30 percent less than the record amount generated by Czech farmers in 2007. The majority of Czech farmers’ revenue came from cereals, followed by milk products. Despite producing more cereals in 2008 than in previous years, profits from such crops were lower as the crops’ market value fell, the Statistical Office said.
In this week's Business News: the Czech crown is continuing a remarkable slide; the Finance Ministry has confirmed that plans to sell off Ruzyňe Airport in Prague are being placed on ice; the leader of the main opposition party has accused the government of “doing nothing” to fight the economic woes that are facing the Czech Republic; Czech beer production fell in 2008, following record-breaking levels in 2007 and the country's chief gas provider says that renewed gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine are now fully meeting the needs of Czech
Prague is renowned for its beer halls and pubs, but not so famous for its wine-bars. All this week, however, a brand new festival is taking place to try and get Czechs and tourists alike off the beer, and onto the wine. Prague Wine Week started on Monday and will culminate in a tasting session of more than 300 wines on Friday evening. Šárka Dušková is the festival’s organizer:
When it comes to New Year’s Eve, things have changed in the last 20 years. Now Czechs don’t just sit in front of their TVs on the last night of the year, noshing on chlebíčky and jednohubky, the famous open-faced sandwiches and canapés. They go out more, partying with friends and dining out; many theatres give special performances and neighbours just get together and celebrate the coming year. But one thing has not changed at all – their favourite drink to match the occasion is an original Czech sparkling wine – Bohemia Sekt.
Over the last couple of months, American glassmaker Charlie Parriott has been working with Czech scientists and craftsmen to make the biggest wine bottle in the world. The project has taken blood, sweat and more than the odd glass of Muller-Thurgau, but now it is finally drawing to an end. In the final days of the project, I met up with Charlie Parriott to ask why he decided to embark upon this mission in the first place:
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