Farmers hail choice of Irena Šinko for agriculture minister

Ljubljana – Farmer representatives welcomed the choice of Irena Šinko as a candidate for agriculture minister. The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry (KGZS) said it was “positive surprise” as she has the expertise. It would like the new government to help farmers, especially with the gap between low buy-in prices and the skyrocketing costs of inputs.

“After all the names that have been circulating for the agriculture ministry, Šinko is quite a positive surprise,” KGZS head Roman Žveglič told the press on Wednesday.

She knows the field, has a background in agriculture and also knows the legislative aspect of matters, he added.

However, Žveglič noted that “it all depends on how she leads the ministry, while it will also be important what orientation her party has”.

Šinko is a candidate of the Freedom Party, and led Slovenia’s Farmland and Forest Fund two terms in 2010-2018. She is now a senior civil servant at the Murska Sobota Administrative Unit.

Similarly, Farmers’ Trade Union boss Anton Medved told the Dnevnik and Večer newspapers that Šinko had been very principled as the fund’s director, and they expect her to act in the same manner as minister.

What is more, she has the necessary experience and a university degree in zoology. What worries Medved is her “political power and influence”.

Agrarian economist Emil Erjavec said that Šinko “is the best thing that could have happened to Slovenian agriculture” as he spoke with Dnevnik.

However, he sees a lack of vision and of EU experience as her shortcomings, so it will be key whom she chooses as state secretaries.

The KGZS meanwhile hopes that the new government will lend an ear to farmers, who Žveglič said faced many tough challenges as “the weakest link” in the food chain.

He would like “the government to support the weakest link, because we are practically helpless on our own”.

“The costs of inputs are skyrocketing, farm gate prices are not following suit, so some regulation will be needed.”

Žveglič thus singled out as two major priorities for the new government relations in the food chain and further coordination of Slovenia’s strategic plan for agricultural policy with the European Commission.

For agriculture, the draft coalition agreement says the coalition will promote sustainable and organic farming and and support young people entering farming.

Ecotourism and the use of new technologies will also be supported, while the use of plant protection products will be reduced and oversight enhanced.

A greater level of food self-sufficiency will be promoted and measures for more humane treatment of animals supported.

The document also says the coalition will accelerate adaptation to the effects of climate change, including by strengthening short supply chains.

It is also planned that part of EU funding will be channelled to into the digitalisation of the agricultural sector.