Fruits and Vegetables on Strike
The farmers of Israel have begun, for the first time, a three-day warning strike. Shoppers don’t feel it yet, but the sellers do.
The strike was to have begun this morning [Monday] at 11:00, but was advanced to last night. Despite this, some trucks filled with produce emptied their contents at the large markets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and elsewhere today.
The farmers are protesting a number of anti-agriculture steps taken by the government, such as a cut in the quota of foreign workers, new employers’ taxes and fees, and reductions in water allowances.
Shmulik Rifman, head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, wrote an op-ed on the issue for NRG-Maariv. Excerpts:
“Our state, which once used to be proud of being a land of milk and honey, and which has engraved on its flag the ideals of growing fruits and vegetables, working the land and the agricultural vision, now chooses to leave this dream far behind… The difficulties that the state piles up against those who try to grow something from nothing on behalf of us all, are impossible, and they are collapsing one after the other and abandoning the land… Agriculture is a daily struggle for land. Land that is not worked is land that is abandoned. Our land supply is already small, even without us giving away more territory, with no peace agreement, to our Arab neighbors.”
In general, nearly all produce is currently available nearly everywhere, but the effects of the strike are expected to be increasingly felt in the coming days. The wholesale market in Jerusalem is open for business, and its parallel in Tzrifin, near Tel Aviv, is partially open.
Roni Mizrachi, Chairman of the Wholesalers Board in Jerusalem, told Globes, “Some beets are in short supply, but aside from that, everything is available. The farmers are not supplying produce, but they picked a lot on Friday and yesterday, so we have a lot. Even on Wednesday I believe there will be produce and the market will be active.”
The situation in Tzrifin was slightly less positive, as only about 7% of the normal number of trucks arrived and unloaded produce.
Yaakov Neuman, one of the strike leaders, took a slightly defensive posture in explaining, “This is not a real strike, but just a warning strike so that [they] get the message. There is a good chance that we will extend it until Thursday, because there is a lot of pressure upon the leadership to do so… The next strike will begin on a Friday, so that there will be no chance to stock up, because the stuff will begin to spoil from Thursday until Sunday.”