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Minister Židan in Bavaria for meeting on the importance of mountain farms

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 4 October 2016 – The Slovenian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Dejan Židan, at the invitation of the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, attended a ministerial conference on mountain farming. The main purpose of the conference was to exchange views on the future development of mountain farming, its specifics and common solutions necessary to provide for its long-term future. On the margins of the conference, Minister Židan took part in a bilateral meeting with the German Minister Schmidt and the Bavarian agriculture delegation.

The conference was organised by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture during its Presidency of the Alpine Convention. The Alpine area is an ecosystem which, owing to its specific characteristics, is very vulnerable to the impacts of economic activities and climate change and as such requires special attention and a special approach in steering its development. For this reason, in the Alpine area it is necessary to ensure the alignment of development needs with environmental protection requirements, taking into account the characteristics and potentials of the Alpine area and the needs of local populations. Therefore, during its presidency Germany has focused on the issue of the preservation and further development of mountain farming. 

 

In his address, Minister Židan highlighted the position of Slovenia based on the resolution "Let’s Secure Food for Tomorrow", where one of the key tasks relates to the conservation of farming in areas with natural or other specific constraints, which includes mountain areas. According to the Minister, Slovenia is well aware of the multifunctional contribution of mountain farming to the conservation of Alpine regions: "Production of high-quality raw materials and food, protection against natural disasters, preservation and further development of the cultural landscape characteristic of a certain location, and preservation of biotic diversity considerably influence the local society, culture and structure of the economy in the Alpine area," he stressed. Minister Židan described the conservation of cultural landscape and biotic diversity together with sustainable and effective use of resources as the basis for mountain farming, living space for local populations and sustainable tourism in mountain areas: "Currently, the common agricultural policy includes numerous measures with which Member States can address the specific features of mountain farming," he noted. According to the Minister, this was why payments for areas with natural or other specific constraints within the framework of the rural development policy, various forms of quality support schemes, and more favourable conditions for investment, education and counselling were of particular importance: "Therefore, it is of key importance for Slovenia that in the discussion on the future of the CAP, special attention is paid to mountain farming issues,  and/or preservation or development of  a suitable set of measures is carried out through which the specificity of farming in these areas can be even better addressed," he added. 

 

After the end of the conference, Minister Židan held a bilateral meeting with his host, German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Christian Schmidt. In their talks, the two ministers highlighted the issue of unfair business practices in the EU’s food supply and inadequate distribution of negotiating power in the food chain. Despite several years of drawing attention to these irregularities, an adequate solution at the EU level has still not been found to better protect the weakest link, i.e. the farmer: "In Slovenia, several important steps bringing the results have been taken, among them the establishment of the institution of the Food Supply Chain Ombudsman, along with setting time limits for payments and defining certain unacceptable business practices," said Minister Židan. In this context, the minister highlighted that addressing this issue at the EU level has not brought sufficient results, and that for this reason we would continue to invest efforts in the adoption of a common framework at the EU level. The European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture has been drafting a set of proposals which need to be adopted, he noted. In their discussion, the Slovenian and German ministers also touched on the topical issue of animal health, focusing on diseases that are currently in or near our area: "Bluetongue disease is already present in our area and, on the basis of expert recommendations, our government decided on a programme of vaccination; however, we also fear the consequences of nodular dermatitis, which is already present in Bulgaria and countries bordering the EU. Together, we should invest great effort to prevent economic damage that might occur if this disease spreads," Minister Židan stressed. The German minister asked his Slovenian counterpart for assistance and support in the control of this disease and the two agreed to establish a special group to address and provide counselling regarding measures to prevent its further spread.

 

Minister Židan then had a meeting with the Bavarian delegation, headed by the Bavarian Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Hubert Bittlmayer. The minister first thanked his discussion partners for their assistance and support in establishing a state forest management company in Slovenia, as this is an area in which Bavaria has wide and positive experience. In the discussion, they stressed the importance of a thorough preparation of the EU Member States for the new financial perspective and the CAP reform after 2020: "It is important that the states with mountain farms talk to each other, since in this way, together, we will be able to firmly and more convincingly represent our specific views and thus prevent overgrowing and enable survival to many farms located in agriculturally less favoured areas", said the Minister. The participants in the discussion also highlighted the further steps required towards increased fairness in the food chain.

 

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