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Agriculture Commissioner in Slovenia on damage in agriculture

European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski visited Slovenia at the invitation of Minister of Defence Marjan Šarec, acting in the capacity of Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food. The purpose of the visit was to present to the Commissioner the agricultural damage in the aftermath of catastrophic floods that struckSlovenia in August of this year. The Commissioner visited the affected areas to see the on-the-ground situation.

The meeting between Minister Šarec and Commissioner Wojciechowski began with a working breakfast, during which the Commissioner received comprehensive information about the agricultural damage caused by the floods in August. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of Slovenia. A total of 183 out of 212 Slovenian municipalities were impacted by floods and landslides, with 104 municipalities experiencing significant damage. The overall damage is estimated at €237 million, including damage to agricultural holdings, agricultural crops, buildings, fallen stock and fish, agricultural lands, crops, stocks, machinery and equipment. Additionally, there are long-term repercussions resulting from the destruction of grasslands and damage to hydro-melioration systems. In September, Slovenia provided the Commission with data on the preliminary assessment of damage in the agriculture sector, while the EU ministers were informed about the consequences in October's Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

The Commissioner inspected the aftermath of the damage caused by the floods in Poljanska dolina. The first stop was Čadež Farm in Delnice, primarily involved in strawberry cultivation, which was flooded during the August floods. The second visit took place at Štravs Farm in Volča. After the visits, Minister Šarec gave a statement to the media and thanked the Commissioner for visiting Slovenia. He stated: "Slovenia is grappling with the most significant natural disaster in its history. After the interventions, the next step is the rehabilitation of damaged land and buildings. That is why I have invited the European Commissioner to Slovenia to witness the damage first-hand. The European Commission will provide rehabilitation funds in the amount of €8.6 million allocated from the EU's agricultural reserve for 2024. We are very grateful to the European Commission and the Commissioner for this substantial support."

In his media statement, Commissioner Wojciechowski spoke about the possibility of providing support from the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy under the measure aimed at restoring the potential of agricultural production after natural or other major disasters. In this context, he highlighted the question of the possible use of the unused funds of the Slovenian Rural Development Programme from the previous programming period. The visit was also an opportunity to initiate discussions on the future Common Agricultural Policy. The Commissioner emphasised that it will be necessary to decide on the future of agriculture after 2027. In this context, we should consider enhancing the instrument to support farmers in crises and introducing the third pillar specifically dedicated to addressing such catastrophes.

Slovenia will use the funds that were already allocated from the 2023 agricultural reserve (in the amount of €1.2 million) to assist producers affected by the storms. The aid will be paid out within this year. The Ministry is coordinating the new amendment to the Rural Development Programme to provide €19 million for investment in damaged agricultural holdings and land improvement.

We are pleased that the Commission will examine the proposal, jointly presented with Croatia in Agriculture and Fisheries Council, regarding the establishment of an efficient, flexible and simple mechanism of financial support in times of crises, when considering the future use of the agricultural reserve.