If you have been in the supermarket recently, you might have seen a sign similar to this one:
Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of produce in the store and the prices are relatively low, but how long will it last? What produce is likely to be the most affected by the war?
You might not realize when we hear that a rocket fell in a “Shetach Patuach” (open area), it means that the missile might have fallen in an agricultural area which has crops or livestock. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, there have been a number of fields and greenhouses damaged from missiles along with 3 poultry houses and 2 dairy farms. Additionally, movement and encampment of Israeli troops around Gaza can also damage fields. Add to the mix the abandonment of foreign workers subsequent to the death of a Thai agricultural worker and the urging of the Thai government to have Thai workers relocated out of danger and there is a serious risk to the ability of the South to provide produce to the supermarkets. A representative of Kibbutz Alumim who was interviewed, however, said that July-August is not that damaging to the fields because it is “between seasons.” There are peppers growing in greenhouses and there are peanuts to be picked in the fields near Ashkelon. The army has built trenches in an area that was just recently their organic carrots field and it will take years to rework the land to be ready to plant again. They aren’t complaining, however, especially considering that next year is a shmita year. Other kibbutzim weren’t able to collect their carrots and they are still laying in the ground. Kibbutz Saad wasn’t able to package their carrots so other kibbutzim helped them.
Not only produce is affected by the shelling. Kibbutzim in the area report a decrease in their cows’ milk production because the cows are too stressed. Some had to drop the number of milkings because the farmers are spending all of their time in their protected rooms. One kibbutz lost 105 calves and has 120 wounded from rocket fire. This will affect future generations of cattle in the dairy farm since these calves are used for replacements for the cows currently being milked.
There is one bright spot in this story. The organization HaShomer HaHadash has assembled groups of volunteers to go south and help harvest, package, and do whatever else is needed for these farmers or their family members who received a tzav 8 or in place of Thai workers who have left. [If you are interested in volunteering, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08-6801314]
Farmers do receive compensation from the Ministry of Agriculture for their losses based on the value of their past earnings. These numbers vary depending on how far away they are from the Gaza Strip- from 80% if they are up to 7 km away to 40% if they are 7-40 km away and 20% if they are over 40 km away. Considering the long range and increased capability of the missiles used during this current campaign, farmers are complaining that the 40% should be raised to 80%. They also petitioned the Ministry of Defense to provide protective shelters for workers in the field to allow them to continue working. The request was passed to the Ministry of Agriculture, but after the death of the Thai worker the Knesset directed the Ministry of Defense to provide shelters.
When all that is said and done, what produce is expected to be more expensive as a result of Tzuk Eitan?
- Fruit- not grown in the South. Prices should stay the same.
- Cucumbers- grown in the Center. Prices should stay the same.
- Potatoes and carrots- grown in the South. Prices for now should stay low because inventory is being taken from refrigerated stock.
- Tomatoes- grown in the South. Prices went up in general because of the current heat wave. There is a significant amount of tomatoes grown in the North so there shouldn’t be a lack of tomatoes on the shelves.
- All produce next year- since the fields can’t be prepared for next year, expect a decrease in inventory and an increase in prices.
- Milk- the price is controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture and there is enough milk production in other areas of the country to prevent a shortage.
Expect this information to change as the campaign continues and shmita approaches.