Ljubljana – Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek presented on Friday Slovenia’s draft strategic plan for the new Common Agricultural Policy in what the ministry says in an ambitious document that involves measures worth EUR 1.2 billion. A quarter of the funds in direct payments is intended for the green component.
“The new programme period is certainly reform-oriented, and it features … green architecture in the first pillar, i.e. in direct payments,” the minister told the press as the draft strategic plan was submitted for public consultation.
The EU member states will have to earmark 25% of the first pillar to measures for the environment and climate change, Podgoršek said, noting that green architecture was voluntary for agricultural holdings.
Another important novelty is social security, respect of the labour and occupational safety legislation, with the Agency for Agricultural Markets and Rural Development receiving information from inspection services and penalising agricultural holdings that do not respect this.
In the second pillar – rural development policy – investments in environmental content is capped at 35%.
Podgoršek said he was happy that the EU agriculture ministers have managed to reach a political compromise to keep payments coupled to production at 13%, and that overall, the draft strategic plan was ambitions, perhaps even too ambitious.
Announcing a round of public debates on the document, the minister said that the ministry wanted to emphasise investment support for greater adaptability to climate change and crisis situations and greater competitiveness of farms.
One of the important areas that the plan addresses is sustainable management of natural resources, including the Natura 2000 nature protection sites, coexistence with large carnivores, adaptation to climate change, and non-production investments.
When it comes to the quality of life and boosting of economic activity in the countryside, the ministry wants to use measures related to smart villages and digitalisation to support basic rural infrastructure.
Another important area is transfer and development of know-how. “If we want to halve the funds for plant protection and antibiotics, reduce fertilisers and increase area for organic farming, we need new knowledge and transfer of this knowledge to farms,” the minister said.
By the end of the programme period in 2027, Slovenia’s goal is that 18% of total farmland is set aside for organic production, shows the programme, which the country needs to send to the European Commission by the end of the year.
In 2023-2027 Slovenia has EUR 1.2 billion at its disposal – EUR 550 million for the first pillar (direct payments) and EUR 750 million for the second pillar (rural development policy).
Agricultural non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have expressed criticism to the plan. They claim it lacks clarity and concrete calculations of the impact on individual sectors and the structure of farms.
“In order for a strategic plan for the implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy to be actionable, we need to know who is eligible for funds and we need concrete calculations,” the NGOs said in a statement today.
The organisations representing farmers expect from the ministry to organise regional presentations and to give them time to prepare their response, which is why public consultation should be extended by at least two weeks.
The NGOs also noted that the financial situation of Slovenian farmers was deteriorating, as the growth of production were considerably outpacing the growth of purchase prices, which have been stagnating in certain sectors.