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Agriculture and rural development

Agriculture is an economic activity of particular importance to society, mainly due to its multifunctional role. The primary task of agriculture in connection with the food industry is the production of safe and quality food. Farming also has a significant impact on the quality of water, soil and air and on biodiversity, it contributes to the appearance of the cultural landscape and, through its economic and social role, also contributes to the vitality and population of rural areas.

The key objectives and orientations of Slovenian agricultural policy are set out in the Resolution on the Strategic Guidelines for the Development of Slovenian Agriculture and Food Industry until 2020, "Ensuring Food for Tomorrow". The focus is on producing safe and quality food with the aim of ensuring food security and increasing the competitiveness of agriculture and the food industry. In this context, the principle of sustainable use of production potential is to be respected and rural development ensured in a coherent and socially sustainable way.

Social relations and views on food production, agriculture and rural areas are changing rapidly

The modern consumer, the citizen and the public expect stakeholders in the food-supply chain and the State to provide safe and quality food, protect natural resources and respond adequately to climate change, and keep rural areas viable.

Therefore a new fundamental strategic framework has been created for agriculture and rural areas beyond 2021, a resolution entitled "Our food, rural areas and natural resources beyond 2021". The essence of the new approach is a targeted strategic planning of public support to food production and processing and to rural development, taking into account the natural features of the Slovenian countryside and actual needs. Given the natural and structural conditions, Slovenian agriculture can only be competitive and resilient when it comes to focusing on greater added value. This requires knowledge, appropriate production technologies, and a modern and competitive food-processing industry. Particular emphasis is placed on the protection of the environment and nature and on the conservation of agricultural areas, which should become an asset rather than an obstacle to management. Knowledge, innovation, entrepreneurship and integration should become driving forces for the progress of Slovenian food production and processing and of the rural space.

Agriculture in figures

In 2017 agriculture, together with hunting, forestry and fishing, contributed 2.1 % to total added value and 7.4 % to total employment. In recent years there has been some improvement in labour productivity, while the age structure of farm managers remains unfavourable (the average age of farm managers is 57 years).

Slovenia has limited areas of agricultural land for food production, particularly in less-favoured areas (76 % of the total agricultural area). At a slightly larger extent of agricultural areas currently in use (480 ha), an average agricultural holding utilises 6.9 hectares of agricultural area. A high proportion of farms are subsistence holdings, while market-oriented farmers link to larger or smaller value chains. Animal husbandry remains the predominant production direction. It accounts for 80 % of all agricultural holdings.

A reduction in the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment has been seen in recent years, which is a result of more rational use of pesticides and mineral fertilizers, of an increase in the share of legumes in crop rotation, and of an increase in under-represented agricultural plants within sowing schemes. Natura 2000 sites in Slovenia comprise 25 % of the territory designated for the conservation of important bird species or 33 % for the conservation of important habitats, which is almost double the EU average. In 2017 there was also another increase in the agricultural areas to be used for organic farming.

More detailed information is provided in annual agricultural state reports prepared by the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was set up in the 1960s to provide people with good and affordable food and to enable farmers to earn a decent living. It is a dynamic policy that by means of reforms has been adapted several times to meet the new challenges and needs of society. In addition to the provision of food, attention is given to sustainable development, the fight against climate change and the maintenance of a vital countryside.

CAP financing contributes to a greater stability of farm income, provides market assistance and supports the wider rural economy by taking into account the needs of individual countries. Under the CAP for the period 2014–2020, EUR 1.7 billion has been earmarked for Slovenia, of which EUR 814.5 million for direct payments to farmers and market support and EUR 838 million for rural development. The priority tasks include the promotion of environmentally friendly farming practices, the support for young farmers, the promotion of competitiveness of agriculture and the balanced development of rural areas.

Currently, EU Member States are negotiating the reform of the CAP for the 2021–2027 period, which, among other things, will simplify its implementation and give more power to Member States in developing measures.