Farm ministry gets new directorate - for food and fisheries
Minister Aleksandra Pivec has told the STA the new directorate is needed because safe and quality food was an increasingly important issue for consumers.
The directorate is divided into sectors for food; promotion of agricultural products and food; fisheries; and for legal matters.
One of its main main tasks will be promoting quality food and expanding quality food programmes, special supervised schemes for which producers have to meet predetermined quality standards to qualify for quality labels.
The minister believes these programmes should be strengthened in the sense of raising quality standards and attracting new sectors into them.
At the moment there are special quality programmes for beef and poultry, milk and dairy products, and fruit, but they will soon be joined by pig breeders.
Pivec would also like to enhance food labelling to improve traceability. Once this is achieved, processed food could enter the quality programmes, she believes.
The new directorate will also act as support for the food supply chain ombudsman, as one of its tasks will be relations in the food supply chain.
"A lot will have to be done for the chain to be more fair, for payments to be more evenly distributed," says the minister, noting the food-processing industry and retailers are in a better position than farmers.
The directorate will also act as support for the food processing industry, which Pivec says would like more cooperation, especially with respect to legislation.
Public procurement - specifically efforts to make Slovenian public institutions buy more local food - will be another area keeping the directorate busy.
Fisheries is an important segment as well, having been transferred to the new department from the directorate for forestry and hunting.
"Our fisheries sector is underfunded in that is has a very old fleet. We're pushing to be allowed to use funds from the next financial perspective to update the fleet, which is not possible now," says Pivec.
The new directorate has around 30 employees and is at the moment led by acting director general Bojan Pahor, the only new hire so far.
It has emerged from the service for support for the food-processing industry and the promotion of agricultural products and food.