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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Czechs cheesed off with EU rules
Pavel Stepanek
Czech farmers say the cheese is "tested on humans" (Photo: CTK)

Two Czech farmers have come up with an ingenious way to get around European Union regulations which they say are threatening their livelihood.

Petr Hajek and Pavel Stepanek from the southern Bohemia region used to make a good living from sales of their goats' cheese, made to an old family recipe.

But since the country joined the European Union on 1 May things have become more difficult.

The men are unable to meet strict EU standards and so are prevented from selling their cheese for human consumption.

"If I wanted to sell goats' cheese to people officially, I would have to invest at least 3m Czech crowns ($115,000) in installing farm hygiene equipment here," Mr Hajek told the Czech daily Lidove Noviny.

"Where would I find that kind of money?" he asked.

'Tested on humans'

But Mr Hajek has come up with a solution to the problem. He is now marketing the produce as animal food.

All this is just bias towards mass producers and globalisation at the expense of small farmers
Petr Hajek

He told the newspaper that he had to put a large notice on his door to avoid being fined for violating EU regulations.

The notice reads: "Goats' cheese. Home-made to a family recipe handed down through six generations. Completely in violation of EU regulations, should be used as animal food. Tested on humans."

Mr Hajek considers the notice to be a protest against Brussels bureaucracy and the behaviour of what he called "holier-than-thou" Czech officials and vets.

"All this is just bias towards mass producers and globalisation at the expense of small farmers," he said.

So far he says he has had no complaints from his customers. "I make goats' cheese the same way as dozens of my ancestors, and it never made any of them even slightly queasy."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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