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There are many prejudices about agriculture among young people, says Jan Bretšnajdr

Jan Bretšnajdr is the chairman of the board of directors and general manager of the joint-stock company AgroZZN Rakovník, which supports the Young Farmer competition.

What is the main carrier program of your company?
We help farmers market their crops in the best possible way. Our main activity is trade in plant commodities, which includes post-harvest treatment, such as cleaning, possibly drying and storage, and of course subsequent sales.

Source: DIARYWhat commodities are these?
This is mainly food wheat and malting barley and other cereals intended for the production of feed mixtures.

You also distribute industrial fertilizers, right?
We are among the major distributors of industrial fertilizers and plant protection products, we also provide consultancy in the field of agrotechnical procedures, selection of suitable varieties and high-quality certified seed.

Wherever the company operates AgroZZN?
We have six so-called divisions in the Central Bohemian and Ústí Regions. The Rakovnicka division mainly presents silo and hangar warehouses with a storage capacity of 59,000 tons in Rakovník and also in the centers of Kamenná Žehrovice and Nové Strašecí. The purchasing warehouse of the Podbořany division together with the centers in Žabokliké and Černovice near Chomutov have a storage capacity of 76 thousand tons of plant products. The Louny division with shopping warehouses in Dobroměřice and Vrbno nad Lesy has a total storage capacity of 54,000 tons, the Slané division with shopping centers in Velká Bučín, Kuchař and Buštěhrad has a capacity of 55,000 tons of plant commodities. In the Litoměřice region, we have two divisions, Bohušovice nad Ohří together with the shopping warehouses in Lovosice and Straškov represent a storage capacity of 72 thousand tons, and the division in the Polepy center with a shopping warehouse in Česká Kamenice enables the storage of 49 thousand tons of plant commodities.

Young farmer - semi-final Hořice

Young farmer: the last finalists are Miroslav Tolar and Diana Fejfarová

How do you feel about limiting pesticides? Rakovnicko is known for its hops, so how is it in this case?
Every good farmer strives for the highest quality and largest yield. You must not let pests destroy your crop, and at the same time you must observe all limits for the use of plant protection products. We are among the countries with the lowest consumption of pesticides in Europe. That is why there has been such a wave of resistance against the EU’s proposal to cut their consumption in half across the board. If we all reduced by half across the board, we would be completely uncompetitive compared to countries where they now use two or three times more pesticides than in the Czech Republic. In the case of hops, the situation is even worse. There is currently EU pressure to completely limit some active substances without replacement. This limits our possibilities of growing hops and harvesting them in adequate quantity and quality.

How many employees do you have and are you “being pushed somewhere by the shoe”?
In total, we employ approximately 160 people. Getting people to work is very difficult. At the same time, we offer competitive wages within the sector. We give room for career growth and invest in modern technologies.

The future is always linked to the young generation, agriculture included. Do you feel the interest of young people in this field?
There are many preconceived notions about agriculture among young people. That is why we support the Young Farmer competition. We like to show students and graduates our operations as a modern and attractive working environment, we work closely with vocational secondary schools in the region. We allow students to do professional internships or summer jobs, and then we also offer the possibility of employment.

Semi-final of the Young Farmer competition at the Masaryk Secondary School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences in Opava.

In Opava, the Young Farmer competition had a record number of participants, Jiří Klapetek won

There is a lot of discussion about the option of merging two secondary schools in Ráków – agriculture and economics. What do you think about this plan? Do you see this as a positive or negative idea for agriculture?
This is primarily a question for school founders. It is important for us that the field is preserved and that quality graduates interested in working in agriculture enter the labor market. We are afraid that the merger will put the agricultural branch behind, and thus all of us farmers in the region may have an even greater need for agricultural graduates. For example, we are currently looking for specialist positions such as foreman, electrician, maintenance worker and in our subsidiaries for positions such as agronomist, zootechnician or tractor operator. We offer them work in a perspective field in a stable and strong company.

What worries you about agriculture? The weather is said to never thank farmers…
We all probably know the jokes about the weather and farmers, and the truth is that we are an industry that depends on the weather. This is one of the factors that we cannot control. Climate change is also a topic for us. Personally, it touches me when some politicians have made farmers almost enemies of the planet. At the same time, who else has farmed the land for centuries and strives every day to be able to harvest well, sow again next year and pass the land on to the next generation at some point in the future? We have been protecting the soil for centuries even without the Green Deal, and we perceive climate change very strongly. And not only the change, we also solve the problem of the regional microclimate.

Young farmer competition on the premises of the Plasy Secondary Vocational School.

The winning semi-finalist, Michal Slavík, has great experience at home on the farm

What does it mean?
In our case, this means drought and high summer temperatures. The impacts are not only in field crops, but we also observe them significantly in hops. In order to maintain our “green gold”, we have to build irrigation systems, but these are very expensive. High temperatures have a negative impact on the content of bitter substances valuable for brewing and, of course, on the volume of production as such.

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