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Minister Šinko: "I believe our strategic plan is ambitious enough and reflects the situation and trends in agriculture"

At a press conference today, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Irena Šinko, and the Acting Director-General of the Agriculture Directorate, Maša Žagar, presented the 2023–2027 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plan for Slovenia.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has already submitted the document, which was approved by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia at its session on 28 September 2022, to the European Commission for formal assessment. It should be approved by the Commission within eight weeks of receipt. It is expected to be implemented from 1 January 2023.

Minister Irena Šinko at today's press conference

Minister Irena Šinko at today's press conference | Author Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food

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The 2023–2027 CAP Strategic Plan is the key programming document for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy and pursues all the overarching objectives: the competitiveness and resilience of the agricultural sector, the protection of the environment and climate, and coherent rural development. With the 2023–2027 CAP Strategic Plan, Slovenia will ensure long-term food security, a green breakthrough, and the sustainable development of its agriculture, forestry, food industry and rural areas in the next programming period. In the face of food and energy price increases and climate and environmental challenges, the 2023–2027 CAP Strategic Plan focuses on sustainable food production throughout the country and on increasing self-sufficiency, placing equal importance on all areas and all agricultural holdings, regardless of their size, orientation or market orientation. It addresses the challenges of food security as well as the environmental and climate challenges that lie ahead.

"Almost EUR 1.8 billion will be available by 2027 to implement the Strategic Plan. Of this, EUR 700 million will be allocated to the first pillar – direct payments, the wine and beekeeping sectors, all with EU funding. The second pillar, rural development, will receive 1.1 billion euros, about half from the EU budget and more than half from the budget of the Republic of Slovenia, with an additional 40.5 million euros provided by the current Government," said Minister Šinko at the press conference.

A strong priority in the Strategic Plan is young farmers, who will be given the opportunity to start up and modernise their farms in order to improve their income situation, thus contributing to the generational renewal of Slovenian agriculture.

Collective investments and other business integration incentives are used as levers to ensure a stable supply of safe and quality food, develop local supply chains, link actors within agri-food chains, and improve the position of farmers.

A special emphasis is placed on the production of food with higher added value, in particular organic production and processing and other products under quality schemes. Slovenia has set itself an ambitious target of reaching at least 18% of its agricultural land under organic farming by 2027, and measures have been adapted accordingly.

The measures to tackle the environmental and climate challenges are the most ambitious yet and reflect a long and challenging dialogue between all key partners – representatives of agricultural, environmental and nature conservation organisations, and the European Commission. They are aimed at the protection and sustainable management of natural resources, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and biodiversity conservation.

The successful development of Slovenian agriculture and rural areas cannot be achieved without the effective transfer of knowledge and innovation and the introduction of digitalisation. Stakeholder development networks within AKIS (Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems), demonstration projects, specialised advice and training will be promoted, which is why funding will be increased by up to 90% compared to the previous period.

"The Strategic Plan has been coordinated with all line ministries, and this coordination has resulted in an increase in funding for renewable energy sources, a clearer definition of this area and an increase in the areas to be supported through Natura 2000. Soil conservation is also more clearly defined, content relating to water protection has been complemented, support for organic beekeeping is specifically defined and the hop composting measure has been withdrawn. The Ministry will monitor the effects of the implementation of the Strategic Plan on an ongoing basis and take action where necessary. Of course, before any changes are made to the Strategic Plan, we will coordinate them between ministries, pursuing the objectives of the Coalition Agreement and the European Green Deal," said the Minister.

As part of the CAP Strategic Plan process, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has to prepare a proposal for amendments to the Agriculture Act, decrees and other implementing regulations that will form the basis for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy.

In closing, the Minister thanked all colleagues and stakeholders who had constructively contributed with their suggestions and opinions. "I believe that the document is ambitious enough and reflects the current situation and trends in agriculture and rural areas, taking into account Slovenia’s natural and structural resources and the expectations of consumers and society at large. It is the result of difficult and lengthy negotiations and represents the broadest possible agreement on what Slovenian agriculture and the food system should look like in the future."

In the follow-up to the press conference, the details of the 2023–2027 CAP Strategic Plan were presented by Maša Žagar, Acting Director-General of the Agriculture Directorate. She emphasised the financial framework and interventions for the new CAP programming period, i.e. direct payment interventions, specifically highlighting the new climate and environment scheme, sectoral interventions for bees, fruit and vegetables and wine, and rural development interventions. In particular, she presented a range of investment interventions that will enhance, inter alia, market orientation and competitiveness, the environmental perspective and climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, animal welfare, and investment in non-agricultural activities and the bioeconomy. She presented non-investment interventions under the second pillar, such as agri-environment-climate payments (relating to climate change, natural resources, biodiversity and landscape), payments for natural and other constraints, organic farming, and Natura 2000 payments. Young farmers, cooperation interventions and horizontal training interventions, knowledge transfer, and innovation interventions were also highlighted.