The Slovenia Times

Competitiveness main goal of farming development strategy


The draft resolution on the national programme on strategic guidelines for the development of Slovenian agriculture and food production was presented to the MPs by Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec.

The main objectives in the document entitled "Our food, countryside and natural resources as of 2021" are resilient and competitive growing and processing of food and sustainable management of natural resources, the minister said.

Adopted by the government last November, the resolution aims at addressing the need for stabilisation and ensuring a suitable level of revenue generated by farmers and, subsequently, reducing the dependence on subsidies.

Funds for the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) will be reduced in the future and although subsidies will remain, farmers should be enabled to generate revenue which would reduce their dependence on subsidies, Pivec said.

The minister listed four groups of objectives the state wants to address, the first being resilient and competitive growing and processing of food.

Committee chair Franc Breznik of the opposition Democrats (SDS) agreed with the objective, saying that "it's important that Slovenia produces large quantities of food, that we're self-sufficient, which is currently not the case".

Other notable objectives are sustainable management of natural resources, management of public goods and raising the quality of life and economic activity in rural areas, while transfer of know-how has been set as a horizontal goal.

Branko Ravnik, the head of the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry (KGZS), sees the resolution as too general and lacking priorities, while raising the issue of the role of farmers in society. "Young people do not opt for such a job nowadays."

Franc Küčan of the Trade Union of Farmers agreed, saying that the resolution should aim for encouraging as many young people as possible to stay on their farms. "We need to make sure people live decently on farms, otherwise even those who are willing to farm would leave."

Küčan believes that the document also needs to protect agriculture from people who move from urban areas to rural areas and create civil initiatives which oppose farmers' plans. "No one wants a farmer for a neighbour. This is why we must write down that the countryside is reserved for agriculture."

Opposition Left MP Violeta Tomić was critical of the fact that farmers are mentioned twice in the document, while consumers are mentioned 17 times. "Not farmers, but consumers will be in focus and everything will be subjected to consumers," she was critical.

Tomić meanwhile welcomed the objectives such as development of cooperatives, promotion of organic farming and reduction of food waste, while she was critical of the plan to develop supplementary activities in farms.

She would not like to see farms abandoning the primary activity and becoming "mini eco hotels". "Farms must be reserved exclusively for farming, and this goal will not be achieved without integration of small farms and support for cooperatives."

Nina Maurovič of the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) believes that change in the mindset of consumers and farmers is a key. "Young generations are coming which are aware that farming has become a commercial activity and it's logical they want profit." Market orientation is a must, and Slovenia should be more ambitious in financing campaigns promoting Slovenian food.


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