President Rivlin to the farmers:
“The responsibility of the State of Israel is not to allow any dreams to crumble. No family should lose their source of income. We cannot leave anyone behind.”
“Agriculture is in my heart. I am doing everything I can to help and to raise consciousness. I promise you that I will continue to do so until the end of my term in office, and afterwards.”
“If we don’t bring the gleam back into the eyes of the farmers, there will be no next generation and that will be the end of a wonderful Israeli enterprise. Every year, more and more growers leave and the average age of Israel farmers is 63, according to the Ministry of Agriculture,” members of the Sa’ada family, flower growers from Moshav Maor told the president with sorrow. President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin visited the communities of Emek Hefer today, Wednesday 27 May / 4 Sivan 5780, to mark Shavuot – also known as the festival of dairy produce. The president met with local farmers, visited the Jacobs Dairy Farm and was the guest of Yeshivat Bnei Akiva at Kfar Haroeh, which is celebrating its 80th birthday. Rabbi Yaakov Haviv and students at the Yeshiva took part in a joint study session on Shavuot, which marks the giving of the Torah, with the president.
The president was escorted on his visit by Minister of Agriculture Alon Shuster, Secretary-General of the Farmers’ Union Avshalom (Abu) Vilan, head of the Menashe Regional Council Ilan Sade and head of the Emek Hefer Regional Council Dr. Galit Shaul.
“Nobody is willing to come and work in agriculture. Today is a nice day, but on a hot day it is 50 degrees in the greenhouses,” said Amichai Sa’ada to the president, adding that his family have been growing flowers for 43 years and have recently become distributors in able to help smaller farms that were in danger of closing. “During the coronavirus outbreak, I bought produce from the small farms so they wouldn’t throw them away and we donated it all. We are losing a million shekels a month. Corona has led to huge losses.”
The president listened to him, saying “Agriculture is in my heart. I am doing everything I can to help and to raise consciousness. I promise you that I will continue to do so until the end of my term in office and afterwards, and I am here today with the Minister of Agriculture and last week I was in the fields close to Gaza, to play my small part in raising awareness of the importance of our own agriculture to the country. Israel’s independence, its security and its success depend on holding on to our land and agriculture is key to that. We must understand that Israeli agriculture is a vital, existential need. To Israeli citizens I say again and again: buy local produce. That is what keeps our country strong and independent.”
The president remarked, “I know that the economic crisis that goes along with the coronavirus pandemic has hit many farmers whose income has dropped. The State of Israel will not leave farmers behind. You are our pride and we need you. Working the land protects our land. It protects us. We will also protect you.”
From the fields of Moshav Maor, the president continued to the Jacobs Dairy Farm at Kfar Haroeh, accompanied by members of the Jacobs family and CEO of the Israel Dairy Council Michal Kraus. The dairy produces goats’, sheeps’ and cows’ milk and makes some 25 different types of cheese – hard, semi-soft, rinded and soft, as well as yoghurts.
“Here, you see how food comes from the earth,” said the president to the family as they toured the dairy, adding that Kfar Haroeh is a symbol of religious Zionism, of the people who came to settle the Emek Hefer region and which proudly bears the acronym of the name of Rabbi Avraham HaCohen Kook. The founders of the moshav, established in 1933, were pioneers in bringing Torah study and working the land together.
In the sprit of the holiday, the president added, “On Shavuot, we celebrate the first fruits of our beloved land. ‘A land flowing with milk and honey’ is something you have to work for. You have to bring forth food from the land – bread, milk and honey. That is the meaning of working the land.”
He added, “Behind every small business there is a big dream. Often, it is a pioneering, brave dream brought to reality by hard work. The Jacobs dairy is the dream of Ruth and Isaac, founders of the moshav, a dream that came true. I know that the coronavirus pandemic has hit farmers and small business owners hard. During the crisis, the duty of the State of Israel is not to allow any dreams to crumble. No family should be allowed to lose its source of income. We cannot leave anyone behind.”
Minister of Agriculture Alon Shuster: “I would like to express my thanks, appreciation and gratitude to the president, whose visit here today has expressed his deep solidarity with farmers and those working the land. The president understands the importance of Israeli agriculture and the deep importance of a people returning to its land, the importance of producing for ourselves as much as possible, and the spread of communities along our borders. The president asked me to help him as long as required, and of course I will do so. The challenges facing Israeli agriculture are manifold, but with partners like the president, we can certainly beat them.”
CEO of the Israel Dairy Board, Michal Kraus: “Thank you, Mr President, for your unwavering support for Israeli agriculture and the dairy industry. Investing in agriculture ensures our independence, the insurance policy of the State of Israel and the only way of ensuring food security for its citizens. We must do all we can to develop it for our future and for the next generations.”