Could a new bill kill Costa Rica’s beloved farmer’s markets?

August 5, 2013

Officials from Costa Rica’s Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG) on Tuesday denied rumors circulating that a proposed piece of legislation would close the National Production Council (CNP), a government agency tasked with regulating the country’s many farmer’s markets.

On Monday, farmers staged a protest to draw attention to the issue, prompting ministry officials to respond on Tuesday morning.

Agriculture and Livestock Vice Minister Tania López Lee and CNP President William Barrantes said at a press conference Tuesday that “there is no such plan currently under discussion by President Chinchilla’s administration.”

Nevertheless, farmers from regions across the country plan to march to Casa Presidencial on Aug. 12 to demand the government “halt the bill that would eliminate all farmer’s markets in Costa Rica.”

The purported bill contemplates a staff reorganization, which farmers believe would entail the CNP’s closure.

The proposed legislation – already filed before the Legislative Assembly – establishes a fund of ₡7 billion ($14 million) for staff reorganization that farmers interpreted as the firing of CNP staff.

López said that in the past three years the ministry has distributed some ₡1.2 billion ($2.4 million) for strengthening farmer’s market’s programs, and that changes proposed by the bill “only aim to strengthen” those programs.

There are currently 79 farmer’s markets in Costa Rica certified by the CNP, and they take place Thursday to Sunday across the country.

The markets offer space for some 12,000 mostly small producers in all seven provinces, according to the CNP.

Farmers’ leaders from the Confederation of Cantonal Agricultural Centers said the elimination of farmer’s markets would affect some 2 million people who buy products every week.

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