On Wednesday, August 3rd the Knesset’s economic committee, headed by MK Eitan Cabel, ratified the rules for regulating the creation of new family farms in the Negev.
In response to the newly ratified rules, Ramat HaNegev Mayor Shmulik Rifman said,“This is an historic occasion for us. After so many years and bureaucratic obstacles, tenders can now be submitted for six new family farms. This means that we can finally complete the “Wine Route” project originally planned for 30 agricultural farms in Ramat HaNegev.
I’d like to thank MK Cabel, who was persistent on our behalf, and MKs Broshi and Vaknin for their vote in favor of ratification. These Knesset members understood that developing the Negev is not a matter of coalition versus opposition,” said Rifman.
For more than a decade Ramat HaNegev Regional Council, under Rifman’s leadership, has been working tirelessly to persuade the relevant government ministries and the Israel Lands Authority to allow the submission of tenders for six family farms in Ramat HaNegev.
The “Wine Route” program, launched back in 1999, was a joint initiative of the regional council and the late agriculture minister Raphael Eitan and the late Ariel Sharon, who was minister of national infrastructure at the time.
The program, which was approved by all of the planning authorities several years ago, includes the precise location of 30 agricultural farms, 23 of which actually exist. As a result of an arduous and complicated bureaucratic process, there was a delay of many long years in the issuance of tenders for six additional farms by the Israel Lands Authority.
The rules of the Negev Development Authority are meant to outline the instructions, conditions and criteria for recognition of new agricultural-tourism ventures in the Negev (i.e., new family farms). The rules apply to new ventures and not to family farms that already exist. We should mention that three weeks ago (as of the date of this article) the Knesset committee discussed the rules and, although many MKs endorsed them, the chairman was forced to adjourn the meeting due to coalition members being absent from the vote. This absenteeism nearly repeated itself in the last session in which only MKs Cabel and Broshi were present. However, MK Cabel’s insistence, on the one hand, and their being joined by coalition MK Vaknin, on the other hand, ultimately resulted in the ratification of the rules.
In the picture: Grape vineyard for producing wine at the Carmei Ovdat Farm