Podgoršek discusses Farm to Fork strategy with peers

Ljubljana – Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek and the ministry’s state secretary Aleš Irgolič participated on Wednesday in a meeting of agriculture ministers of the Visegrad Group, plus Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania. The meeting was dedicated to challenges facing farmers and the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy.

Podgoršek and Irgolič took part in the virtual meeting at the invitation of the Polish Agriculture Minister Grzegorz Puda. The meeting was also an opportunity to exchange experience of the common agricultural policy efforts, the Slovenian Agriculture Ministry said in a press release.

Slovenia thinks that efforts to pursue the Farm to Fork strategy are the right choice, said Podgoršek, highlighting that farming should continue to provide safe, quality and accessible food while being responsible.

A transition to a nature-friendly agricultural system poses a great challenge, he said. Slovenia supports efforts to address the strategy’s areas, however certain key commitments are very ambitious and challenging for Slovenia’s farming, he noted.

“It is important that the role of ensuring a fair transition to a sustainable food system is clearly recognised,” he said, pointing out that the European Commission should take into consideration specifics of individual member states.

The ministers of the Visegrad Four, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania signed a joint declaration at the start of the meeting, whereas Slovenia abstained in light of its coming EU presidency.

The second part of the meeting, which was attended by Irgolič, was dedicated to an exchange of experience regarding strategic plans for the EU’s common agricultural policy.

Slovenia will implement the Commission’s related recommendations in its strategic plan in a manner that will acknowledge the country’s specifics and thus its potential to meet the set targets. Therefore, a balanced and fair transition will be ensured, the state secretary said.

When it comes to efforts to ensure agricultural sustainability, a special emphasis will be put on emergency measures to mitigate and adjust to climate change, preserve natural resources and maintain and restore biodiversity provided the sector’s competitiveness is maintained as well, he said.

Slovenia will seek balance between food production, conservation efforts and the development of rural areas.

The first draft of the country’s strategic plan was prepared last December. The finalised document is expected to be forwarded to the Commission at the end of 2021, Irgolič said.

During Slovenia’s EU presidency in the second half of 2021, the ministry intends to hold a debate or workshop on preparations for national strategic plans to support member states.