The Nationalist Party is proposing setting up a fund that would help farmers purchase private land to use for agricultural purposes, in a bid to address the problem with agricultural leases.
The proposal aims to address a problem many farmers have found themselves in as a result of a recent court decision, which found that the Agricultural Leases Act – the legislation which gives farmers working third-party private land an automatic right of renewal – was in breach of landowners’ fundamental rights.
The judgment has sent shockwaves through the agricultural community, with many farmers now facing the threat of eviction at the hands of the owners of their fields.
In order to address this situation, the Nationalist Party is proposing a scheme through which the government would offer assistance to farmers looking to purchase the fields they work.
PN communications chief Peter Agius said the scheme would address the issue of finding a just price for the private land. The scheme, he said, would also be open to young farmers looking to make a career out of farming.
Agius was joined by the PN’s agriculture spokesperson Edwin Vassallo and candidate Rebekah Cilia.
A second scheme proposed by the PN would see the government provide direct financial aid to farmers choosing to remain under an agricultural lease, which owners would now be permitted to increase.
The proposal would see the government reimburse 70% of the cost of the rent to farmers who can prove they are actually working their land and selling the produce from it in the local market.
Should the PN be elected to government, both schemes will be introduced on a voluntary basis and without prejudice to any court sentences, the party said.
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