Government approves 2023-2027 CAP strategic plan

Ljubljana – The government approved on Thursday the strategic plan for the 2023-2027 common agricultural policy (CAP), which according to the relevant ministry brings a fairer distribution of funds, in particular to small and medium-sized farms and young farmers, while also improving biodiversity.

The 750-page document, which will now be sent to the European Commission, defines the implementation of the new CAP that is also more ambitious from the aspect of environmental protection.

The EU member states will need to ensure that at least 35% of the rural development budget and at least 25% of direct payments go to environmental and climate action.

The strategic plan is a key new feature in the CAP, allowing each member state to adapt the implementation of measures to the domestic conditions to a greater extent than before.

Speaking to the press after the document was adopted, Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek said he was happy with the drafting procedure, as well as the content, adding that the plan inspired optimism.

The agriculture sector is not capable of rapid change, and it would not be right to expect extremely rapid change in just five years, the minister said, adding that the document nevertheless indicated the right direction.

In the 2023-2027 period, Slovenia will have EUR 1.2 billion in EU funds at its disposal.

The first pillar that deals with direct payments and is fully covered by the EU funds, amounts to EUR 688 million, and the second pillar – the rural development programme – EUR 550 million.

In addition to the obligatory minimum national contribution of EUR 230 million, an additional EUR 310 million has been agreed with representatives of agricultural organisations, which puts the amount of national funds to EUR 540 million.

Podgoršek is happy that Slovenia has recognised the strategic feature of agriculture and that the state has chipped in more funds than the minimum requirement is.

He said that the additional funds would be used for investments in restructuring of the agriculture and the food processing sectors. The second pillar is also intended for adaptation to climate change and investments in animal welfare.

In the first pillar, the funds are focused on basic income support for sustainability, where the largest change is the transition to single payments per hectare.

In this regard, Podgoršek announced that the ministry would start editing databases and that the number of agricultural holdings applying for subsidies was expected to drop from the current 57,000.

As for environmental protection, the minister noted that part of the funds was being directed into encouraging the adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices through the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.

Due to the high ambition of environmental, climate and nature protection goals in the second pillar, where 41% of EU funds are allocated, Slovenia has decided to use a rebate and allocate 15% instead of 25% of the envelope to the scheme in the first pillar.

Based on analyses, identified in the strategic plan as sectors in difficulties that are included in coupled income support are cattle breeding, suckler cows, milk production in mountain areas and sheep breeding.

The strategic plan maintains payments for less-favoured areas, envisages comprehensive support and a combination of different support mechanisms for young farmers, and promotes development networks and knowledge transfer projects.

The minister does not expect that significant changes to the plan would be made following the coordination with the European Commission, which will start next year. Slovenia will nevertheless have to prove and justify some of the planned measures.