In more business news, financial daily E15 reports that Monday was the deadline for potential investors to voice an interest in Czech brewery Staropramen. Staropramen has been put on the market by Anheuser-Busch InBev alongside the conglomerate’s other central and eastern European ventures to help pay off debts of nearly 45 billion USD. The brewer has said it hopes to receive 2.6 billion USD through the sale of its central and eastern European businesses, while analysts suggest that its enterprises in the region are worth considerably less than that, something closer to 2 billion USD. It has not been revealed just who is interested in the purchase of Staropramen, but there is speculation that private equity funds such as CVC Capital Partners and TPG have put in a bid. Staropramen is the second biggest beer-producer in the Czech Republic.
The recent flash floods in the Czech Republic have focussed attention on how quiet streams could be transformed so rapidly into raging torrents causing destruction and taking lives. Environmental groups are putting the blame on manmade changes to rivers and the landscape. But while the Ministry of Environment is mapping out the risks, landscape changes to cushion the risks still seem a long way off.
The ministers of agriculture of the EU member states have approved an extension for the support currently being provided to milk producers. The European Commission will continue to purchase butter and dried milk that EU dairy farmers are unable to sell until the end of February 2010. The original program allowed the programme to run from March to August of 2009. The current low price of milk has caused a major problem for dairy farmers across the EU, and Czech farmers, among others, have held protests and blockaded traffic in recent months to protest a lack of aid. The Czech Agrarian Chamber has warned that 2,000 face unemployment and 20.000 cows could be slaughtered if the price of milk is not increased in the coming months.
Farmers across the country blocked motorways with tractors on Monday to protest against low prices they are being paid for milk. One of the biggest protests was in the central Vysočina region where around 400 tractors and lorries blocked the central D1 motorway. Farmers are currently being paid around six crowns for a litre of milk which is sold in shops for three times as much. A year ago they were paid nine crowns. The agricultural chamber has warned that up to 20,000 cows might have to be slaughtered because dairy farmers can not make ends meet.
Czech dairy farmers took to the highways Monday morning to bring the nation’s traffic to a snail’s pace for two hours. Protesting the critically low purchase price of milk - and what they see as a lack of political will to do anything about it – nearly 2,000 dairy farmers overran 20 highways in seven regions. It was the second protest in as many months, aimed at forcing what the farmers’ say is a desperate situation into the public eye.
The head of the Czech Agrarian Chamber, Jan Veleba, told Czech TV on Sunday that further drops in the prices of milk would force farmers to cull as many as 20,000 cows. Up to 2,000 jobs might then be lost as a result. Mr Veleba said that due to low milk prices, Czech farmers will this year get some 4.5 billion crowns, or more than 240 million US dollars, less than in 2008. Farmers are planning to block Czech motorways on Monday as part of a nationwide protest against low milk prices.
Czech farmers are going to block motorways around the country on June 29 in protest against low milk prices, the head of the Czech Agricultural Chamber, Jan Veleba, told the press on Friday. Czech farmers demand help from the government and the EU, and want fixed minimum milk prices to be introduced.Mr Veleba said several hundred farmers are likely to join in the protest but did not disclose which parts of the Czech highway system will be blocked.
The Czech Republic has taken a step against the anti-smoking flow in the rest of Europe. While anti-smoking bans have spread across the continent in recent years, Czech MPs have proposed a relaxation of the current rules for smoking in pubs and restaurants. Anti-smoking groups say they have caved in to pressure from the powerful tobacco lobby.
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