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Minister Podgoršek welcomes the French Presidency's programme at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Minister Jože Podgoršek attended the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels. It was the first Council meeting under the French Presidency. The meeting focused on the presentation of the French Presidency's programme in agriculture, food safety, fisheries and forestry, the presentation of the Commission's Communication on sustainable carbon cycles, the situation on agricultural markets and trade-related issues.

The Council meeting started with the presentation of the French Presidency's programme in agriculture, food safety, fisheries and forestry. Minister Jože Podgoršek offered his support to his colleague Julien Denormandie, saying: "We welcome the Presidency's ambition to focus on meeting the environmental and health standards in the production of agricultural products imported to the EU from third countries. It is an important discussion in view of implementing the Green Deal and ensuring a level-playing field for EU producers. We also welcome the discussion on low carbon agriculture and the transition to a reduced use of pesticides in agriculture based on the amended proposal for a directive on the sustainable use of pesticides. We believe that we are able to do this together; new measures and higher funding in the framework of green architecture under the future CAP will also contribute to achieving this goal."

The European Commission briefed ministers on the situation on agricultural markets, which face rising input costs, in particular of energy products, animal feed and fertilisers. Minister Podgoršek stressed the importance of well-functioning food chains: "It is important to continue to seek common solutions to enhance the role of farmers in the food supply chain, while closely monitoring the situation. This should be an ongoing task." In their discussion, ministers have once again highlighted the situation in the pig-meat sector. Minister Podgoršek recalled: "Following different interventions in numerous Member States, including Slovenia, to support the pig-meat sector at the national level, it is now time to act at the EU level. Until the market starts to respond positively, we need further measures to bridge this period." Commissioner Wojciechowski reported on the state of play of trade negotiations and provided the latest data on the import and export of agricultural products. When discussing this item, Minister Podgoršek reiterated his support for a discussion on meeting equal environmental and health standards as regards products imported to the EU and stressed once again that it is necessary to take these aspects info account in the EU's trade policy. 

The Commission presented its Communication on sustainable carbon cycles, which includes low carbon agriculture. Minister Podgoršek stressed that Slovenia supports the Communication, taking into account that, in the future, it will be necessary to increase carbon sinks in soils by using climate and environmentally friendly practices in agriculture and forestry. He added that it is necessary to establish common rules for determining actual carbon removals, monitoring and reporting. This will recognise the contribution to EU's climate and environment goals. Member States' strategic plans for the measures of the common agricultural policy will also play a major role."The new common agricultural policy will have an important role in promoting the measures for encouraging the use of carbon agriculture. In its strategic plan for the next period, Slovenia will promote climate-friendly agricultural practices in the framework of eco-schemes and agri-environment measures," said Minister Podgoršek.

At the meeting, ministers also touched upon animal welfare, since they received information from the Commission about the "EU animal welfare today and tomorrow" conference held in December last year. On the margins of the meeting, Minister Podgoršek met with Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski to discuss his participation in the event, which Slovenia will organise as part of EXPO Dubai.