The head of the State Agency for Land Resources of Ukraine Serhii Tymchenko believes the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to be not ready to consider the bill on farmland transactions. He stated his opinion during the 5th International Forum on Agribusiness in Ukraine, organized by the Adam Smith Institute. “We need to keep a cool head when considering the bill, because it has become highly politicized. I do not get the Verkhovna Rada’s current condition in general, but I do know that they are not ready to discuss the farmland bill,” he noted. According to Tymchenko, the agency plans to finish work on the document soon and introduce it in the parliament.
The agency’s head noted that a consensus on several points had already been reached while discussing the bill. “The bill says that the right to purchase agricultural land belongs to natural persons who are citizens of Ukraine and the state as represented by the Land Bank. Such a policy will help the Ukrainian countryside out of its current decay through expansion of small and medium-sized businesses there, which are virtually non-existent now,” he described the first compromise point.
In addition, the state will get money to support smallholders. “High land rents should be redistributed in the public interest,” he explained. Tymchenko said that the bill proposed to introduce a mandatory lower limit of rent, setting it at no less than three percent of the official monetary valuation. Moreover, farming enterprises will pay one percent of valuation surtax that will go to the municipal coffers and pay for the development of rural districts. “On state-owned lands, half of this tax will go to the state budget’s special fund tasked with the continued redemption of the citizens’ land shares and providing state support to smallholders,” Tymchenko told the forum participants.
The bill tries to solve the rural underemployment problem, too. In particular, Tymchenko said, it set the lower limit for employment per hectare of arable farmland, because it should not go on like now, when there are enterprises farming 10,000 hectares but hiring just 10 workers. “The law will set the minimum levels of full employment per unit of land by climatic zone,” he concluded.