Aid confirmed for farmers stricken by spring frost

Ljubljana – The National Assembly unanimously endorsed on Wednesday a law on measures to help farmers affected by the spring frost. It provides the basis for a final damage assessment and for emergency measures. The majority of deputy groups were in favour of making the aid available as soon as possible.

The aim of the law on measures to remedy the effects of the frost on agricultural production between 18 and 22 March 2021 as well as 5 and 9 April 2021 is to enable measures that would help those affected by the adverse weather conditions at that time.

The frost has caused exceptional damage to fruit and wine production. Farms no longer have the means to carry out the essential maintenance of plantations, which is necessary even if there is no harvest.

The law will allow natural persons other than sole traders who have suffered damage as a result of frost to purchase grapes from outside the wine-growing area.

It creates the legal basis for providing aid to affected agricultural holdings in the form of soft loans to finance running costs, a reduction or waiver of pension and disability insurance contributions, and a waiver of lease payments to the Farmland and Forest Fund.

And it provides for the possibility of waiving the maintenance fee for the Vogršček irrigation pipeline for owners or lessees of local agricultural land whose water supply is currently disrupted as a result of ongoing construction work.

“Agriculture needs help, and it needs help yesterday if we want citizens to buy Slovenian, proven and healthy food,” said Jani Ivanuša from the National Party (SNS) on Tuesday.

The opposition SAB party did not vote in favour but did not oppose it either. MP Vojko Starovič said that the affected farmers should be helped, but the party had some reservations because “we cannot permanently destroy our legal system by adopting emergency laws”.

“Slovenia needs a consistent agricultural policy, which unfortunately we do not have,” he added.

Violeta Tomič of the Left also warned that “we are adopting a new law for every specific event. Given that climate change is happening constantly, we need systemic regulation in this area.”

Initial estimates of the spring frost damage stand at some EUR 50 million.