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State Secretary Strniša in an Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries

Athens, Greece, 6th May 2014 – Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment Tanja Strniša attended the Informal Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries which took place today in Athens. It revolved around the theme of “Transforming the European Agricultural Diversity into Strength”.

The Hellenic presidency put the search for ways on how to transform this diversity into strength to the heart of the discussion on the diversity of the European agriculture. State Secretary Strniša said that “Slovenia faces immense diversity in its small area. A constant challenge for us is turning this diversity into a development opportunity and not perceiving it as an obstacle.”

She emphasised that the interior diversity of the EU agriculture, if looking at it from the viewpoint of agricultural products, structures and production methods which derive from diverse natural resources and historical circumstances, presents an advantage already today. However we should strive for preservation of this agricultural diversity as a means of development also in the future: “This poses a challenge of retaining and promoting diversity and, at the same time, ensuring the necessary changes in the entire agri-food chain and taking into account the changing global conditions.”

The diversity of agriculture is a vital contributor to a more sustainable development, “the rich and diverse landscape is Europe’s natural heritage and locally adapted traditional farming systems have an extra advantage as they are less vulnerable to diseases and climate change,” stated Strniša.

She also said that food security today does not mean only an adequate self-sufficiency in food but most importantly a supply of safe and qualitative food together with preservation of natural resources. Noticeable is also the ever-growing sensitivity of consumers to quality parameters, such as food origin and production and processing method. “This is where I see the chance for the diversity of our agriculture,” stressed the Secretary of State.

She also expressed her satisfaction over the fact that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform has considered the diversity of the EU agriculture to a great extent and also allowed enough opportunities in the implementation of the direct payment model and rural development measures since “Slovenia would have serious problems with retaining the relative stability of the agricultural sector without this flexibility in the implementation of the reform.” She underlined the crop-specific payments and the modalities of implementation of the internal convergence of direct payments and the measure for the support of innovative approaches, closer ties in the agricultural chain, local self-sufficiency and specific environmental-climate measures. “For Slovenia also special supports for young farmers in both CAP pillars are vital,” added Strniša.

The importance of respecting and fostering the diversity of agriculture was generally welcomed by all Member States and the EU Commissioner for Agriculture. The fact that preserving the diversity should not be an obstacle for the development of competitive agriculture and that it needs to play a special role in the furthering of innovative approaches in agriculture was also emphasized.

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