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NEWS

Minister Židan in a Yesterday’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council Meeting

Ljubljana, 20th May 2014 – Minister of Agriculture and the Environment Dejan Židan yesterday attended a session of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the EU in Brussels. The focus of the session was a debate on setting up a coordination facility for minor uses of plant protection products. Ministers also discussed the initiative for abolition of obstacles which contribute to food loss and food waste, and agriculture’s greenhouse gas emission issues as part of the Climate and energy framework 2030. They also held a debate on measures taken so far to improve the implementation of the protection of animals during transport.

Within the main item on the agenda the European Commission (EC) presented a report on setting up of a coordination facility and potential establishment of a European fund for minor uses of plant protection products. Minor use includes plant cultures which are cultivated on a smaller scale (e.g. citruses, cherries, plums, raspberries, figs, asparagus, olives); also their use is minor or too low to encourage the industry to invest in the registration of plant protection products. These cultures have a profound economic importance for cultivators and they are also important for biodiversity. The aggregate value of the production of these cultures on the EU level is valued at about 70 billion € per year, which represents 22 % of the entire EU plant production value. In its report Commission highlighted the main causes for the minor uses problem and proposed four possible solutions. Slovenia welcomes the activities leading to greater transparency over the allowed plant protection products uses for minor crops. Primarily it stands for integrated pest control with a minimum usage of plant protection products; Slovenia is aware of the fact that in certain cases such as extreme urgency of plant protection usage of pesticide is necessary too. EC’s suggested propositions will increase the scope of the proper controlled usage of pesticides on minor cultures which will increase food safety since in the past pesticide content in minor cultures appeared occasionally as a consequence of non-registered products’ usage.

 
On the initiative of the Dutch and Swedish delegations the Council discussed food loss and food waste which Slovenia too sees as an important moral, economic, social and environmental problem. According to data provided by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, in 2011 Slovenia produced nearly 168,000 tons of food waste which translates to 82 kilos per inhabitant. This means that Slovenians discard three times more food than it would be acceptable from the viewpoint of rational use. The majority of food waste is produced in production and processing activities (around 41 %), followed by commercial activities (around 23 %), households (around 25 %) and catering business (around 11 %). Slovenia sees the solution in promotion and development of sustainable local food chains and healthy nutrition. However, the delegation pointed out that food loss and food waste reduction need to be part of a broader concept of sustainable food systems’ promotion, which is characterized by a multisectoral approach. It is vital to be aware of the fact that all actors within the chain bear responsibility for food loss and food waste reduction; hence collaboration of all stakeholders is of extreme importance. A good practice example is a project of the Association of Lions Clubs on “excess food distribution”. In order to overcome the existing legislative obstacles in Slovenia a change of the national legislation is underway. Already this year it will enable a sale of goods which meet safety requirements also after the indicated “best before” date.

 
On the initiative of the Irish and German delegations the Council discussed the issues on agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions within the EU 2030 Climate and energy framework. It was highlighted that not only agriculture but also the entire LULUCF (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry) sectors need to be address in this debate, as the sector is multifunctional. Slovenia agreed that due the specific issues of agriculture’s greenhouse emissions this question should be addressed also in sessions of Agriculture and Fisheries Council and supported the appeal to include the Directorate-General for Agriculture in these efforts. Slovenian delegation also highlighted the need for an adequate contribution of carbon sinks in forests to be part of environmental endeavours.

 
Ministers were briefed also with protection of animals during transport by Danish delegation. Slovenia stressed that this issue is of extreme importance and underlined that measures need to be based on scientific facts; it highlighted also a need for a uniform and efficient application at the EU level.

 

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