The selection for the best young farmer, who will represent Croatia in the selection for the best European farmer, has entered the final phase. The expert jury selected the 21 best.
These are their stories.
Was it not for this election for the best young farmer who is organizing Jutarnji list for the fourth year under the auspices of the European People’s Party and the new ambassador Sunčana Glavak, it would seem almost impossible mission to find out what is happening in the countryside as we race on the sea? their roadside drives?
We tried to find out how food is produced in our country and what is the new role of young farmers in the changes that are happening with a shift to greater climatological responsibility and ecological approach to solving problems on the property of our candidate Helena Vugec Fabek (35) from Donja Pusca not far from Zapresic.
As the only heiress, Helena continued the third family generation that raises cattle for fattening, which they now work with their father Darko and with the help of their son Bruno in the cow-calf system in cycles that enable the development of domestic Simmental, which is especially valued in the Italian market. And that’s not all, last year she designed the first pumpkin pie on the market, then the first sweet spread with pumpkin and delicatessen pralines with pumpkin seeds. As we tour the barns next to the hay bale tent co-financed by Zagreb County, Helena tells us about the plans.
– Well, half of our heifers have calved, now we are waiting for the other half of the calving in a month. We have a total of 68 breeding heifers, which remain on our farm as a basic herd. I am a beneficiary of the rural development program (renewal of livestock in Europe invests in rural areas, young farmer measure, animal welfare measure, crop insurance, primary producer, suckler cows, fattening cattle …) I hope to continue to develop, I would even dare to say and expand the basic herd, leave the female offspring for further reproduction, and thus close the entire production process. I hope that the local community will also recognize the importance of working in agriculture and food production in these difficult and uncertain times and turn to us little ones. I am also happy to see that the children like to come to our farm and spend time with the animals – the hard-working, cheerful and smiling Helena tells us.
We ask her why she applied again for the selection of the best farmer?
– Ha, I applied for the election at the urging of my son Bruno, husband Nikola, and father Darko. They say that in our family I keep all four corners of the house and that there is nothing that would sway me in crazy ideas, that I achieve everything with my stubbornness and perseverance.
And what qualities should a young farmer have?
– First of all, you need to have the nerve to fight the bureaucracy, you need to be persistent and never give up on your goals and beliefs. He must know that downturns and bad times in agriculture are constantly present and that the end result and success do not come overnight. He has to take risks at work because it is not a shame if he falls, but if he does not get to his feet after the fall. He must also be aware that no one will work like him for him and if he is willing to sacrifice his free time and accept that it is a job without working hours, then let him embark on agriculture. And primarily it is a love of agriculture, that is, it is a way of life. Either you mean to do it for love or you don’t even start.
What are your main trump cards?
– I think a woman can do anything today! I have personally encountered a number of prejudices because let does not lie, it’s still a man’s job. And I as an educated woman have always been questioned “so what do you need it for? Could you do a job in an office? Come on, what will your child say at school that his mom is a farmer?” However, I have never had a problem with pride saying that I am a farmer and I think it can be to my pride and not to my shame. Those who know me know that there is a “hundred of life” in me, that I would go crazy if I had to do office work and sit still for 8 hours in a couple of days. I am stubborn, persistent, I never give up even when my chances are 0.00001% and if I know I am right, I push mine to the end. In agriculture today you have to be innovative and constantly offer the market something new! Here is the first pumpkin pie in Croatia in 2019, then it was the turn of pralines with pumpkin filling and flavors and a sweet pumpkin spread that no one in Croatia makes. And of course, there are my cows, people said “let’s buy 10 of them, you buy 70 at once”, if I was given the opportunity, I would expand, I would buy another 50 …
How do you see the European Union’s turn towards ecological land management and pollution reduction?
– Honestly, it is very difficult, there are a lot of problems, something that looks great on paper in practice is, unfortunately, impossible to perform. There is a lot of illogicality in the applications that farmers are expected to satisfy, just for someone to show us the way in which this tender is feasible in practice.
What, in your opinion, are the main problems of young farmers?
– Unfortunately, there are a lot of them. The first is a terribly slow administration, bureaucracy, paperwork. Today you are left to your own devices. All this is beautifully presented from the outside, but the truth is, unfortunately, quite different. Not to mention the lease of state land, it is an impossible mission for us young people. Although I am in the cow-calf system and livestock renewal and I have the championship as a young farmer to get 1.23 acres of land per cow, this has been an impossible mission for the last three years. It is always assigned to the same without cattle. Well, problems with the placement of our own products, I always say who does not deal with it, has no idea what we are talking about.
What would you say to young people who two stay on the land of their grandfathers or not?
– Well, honestly, if this job makes you happy and fulfilling, try it because one day you will surely regret not trying it. But if you stay because your parent or grandfather is forcing you to do so, and you don’t care, be honest and admit to yourself and them that you don’t want to and don’t torture yourself or others. Because for agriculture you have to have the will. Work always pays off, so your commitment and effort can’t go unnoticed, it’s not easy, but it’s possible.
Age: 35 years
Place: Kumrovečka cesta 10, Donja Pušća
Area: 30 hectares
Production: Silage corn, gourd, barley, wheat, spelled, clover grass mixtures, sale of live heifers in Italy
Business motto: Never give up, even when you lose the war, believe in yourself because miracles are possible!