Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Agriculture Ministry to Alter Insurance Contract to Protect Farmers Who Keep Shmittah
by Betzalel Kahn

The Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to make changes in the multi-risk insurance contract with farmers, calculating the sixth year of the Shmittah cycle twice so that farmers who observe Shmittah would not be harmed in the event of damage caused by nature (as explained further below), Agricultural Minister Yisrael Katz notified Degel HaTorah General Secretary MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni this week.

Several weeks ago Katz, Gafni and various mayors and public figures participated in a tour conducted at the Center for Halacha-Based Agriculture, headed by HaRav Yosef Efrati and located in Nachal Sorek. During the course of the tour, Minister Katz pledged to assist and stand by the observant farmers and the Center, which serves as the largest institution for activities in the sphere of Land-of-Israel mitzvas and based on directives by today's leading poskim.

During the tour HaRav Efrati asked Minister Katz to begin preparations for the next Shmittah year. Minister Katz promised to help to the best of his ability and even said his ministry is preparing to examine the issue of multi- risk insurance for farmers who keep Shmittah.

When damage caused by natural phenomenon occurs, choliloh, the government compensates farmers for their losses based on their average income and agricultural yields over the four preceding years. When a Shmittah year falls during that time span the Shmittah-observant farmer receives less in compensation since he posted no profit for the entire year of Shmittah that his fields stood idle. As a result, religious farmers have suffered considerable unjustified losses over the years.

Following the tour and the conversation between Katz and Gafni, the Agriculture Minister sent a letter to Rabbi Gafni stating the matter had been taken care of. Along with the letter Katz also sent a document from the office of the Agricultural Ministry Director-General saying the Budget Department of the Finance Ministry had agreed to carry out changes in the multi-risk insurance contract. A copy of the letter was also sent to MK Rabbi Litzman.


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