The Slovenia Times

Farmers staging scattered protests

Industry & AgriculturePolitics
Farmers protest in front of the Water Agency offices in Celje to demand a stop to plans to create dry water retention basins. Photo: Lili Pušnik/STA

Joining a wave of farmers' protests across Europe, Slovenian farmers have been staging scattered small-scale tractor rallies across the country, expressing a range of demands.

About a hundred farmers staged a protest in Celje in the morning on 14 February with another rally planned in Slovenj Gradec, also in the north-east, in the afternoon, according to media reports.

Last week, small convoys of tractors were spotted in Ptuj, Lenart, Šentjur, Celje, Šoštanj and Slovenjske Konjice. At those rallies farmers said they felt desperate, angry and left out.

They demanded the protection of agricultural land and immediate implementation of the 2023 agriculture policy, and voiced opposition to new taxes.

They argue that Slovenia's legislation on pesticide use is even harsher that in the rest of the EU, criticising the EU for importing cheap food from countries with low regulation which EU farmers cannot compete with.

Farmers want Slovenia to follow the example of France and put the right to farming into law and demand decent pensions for retired farmers.

The protesters in Celje also expressed opposition to the planned retention basins in the areas that were hit by severe flooding in August 2023, web portals MMC and Radio Slovenija reported.

Farmers do not oppose flood prevention measures as such, but think they should be applied in different ways than now planned, at lower cost and not at the expense of farmland.

They demanded a meeting in the next two weeks with officials in charge of agriculture, natural resources and of the retention basins project.

Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Jože Novak said he understood farmers' distress. He said the retention basin project was in the planning phase and there should be debate and a consensus built before construction starts.

He has a meeting with farmers scheduled for next day that the agriculture minister will attend as well. He promised that nobody's land will simply be taken away and that the owners will be compensated for the land.

Led by their trade union, Slovenian farmers staged massive protests across the country in spring 2023 before reaching agreement with the government on their key demand related to environmental restrictions in Natura 2000 sites, while obtaining promises that their other demands would be resolved in time.

However, the union has indicated it will stage such massive protests again unless their demands are met.


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