Conference ‘Countryside is alive!’
with more than 380 registered guests was held on 19th November 2015 on campus of the Slovak Agricultural University in Nitra.
The aim of the Conference was to open the most serious issues and aspects faced by the Slovak agriculture, food processing and production industry and to bring relevant answers in the form of solutions which would contribute positively to the recovery and revitalization of the rural life.It was attended by young, small and family farmers, academics, experts, NGOs and political representatives.
The Conference was organized by the Rural Platform in cooperation with National Rural Development Network, the Rural Development Agency and the Slovak Agricultural University.The Conference was also attended by the Wold Rural Forum representative from Spain Laura Lorenzo. She brought global perspective, implementation and insights into young and family farmers support. She expressed her great support and promised further assistance to the Rural Platform.
In the opening part the Rural Platform presented various projects currently being implemented which are already helping farmers and having real impact in specific areas. The president of the Rural Platform Lucia Gallova then solemnly welcomed ten new partners, ten new organizations bringing thus the total membership base of the Rural Platform to 15 organizations representing 500 individual members within its first year of existence.
National Union for Representing the Interests of Small-scale Farmers the organizer of the Hungarian National Committee of IYFF +10 was also among those invited lecturer and presented its work in relation to the Hungarian small-scale and family farmers.
The key activity involving all participants of the conference was to discuss in working groups the topics of Land, Strategy and conception, New legislation for small farmers, The Rural Development Program 2014-2020, Healthy school meals, Education, Financing and preparation of business plans and sales opportunities. The outputs of the working groups were then presented to all participants of the event.
Early evening held a discussion moderated by Adela Banasova with politicians Vladimir Chovan, Igor Hrasko, Martin Fecko, Jan Subak and Stanislav Hornik.The guests of the discussion were confronted with the experiences and opinions of the conference participants and responded also to the outcomes of the working groups. They addressed the Rural Platform’s challenge who put forward the need for an apolitical preparation of a long-term strategy for Slovak agriculture as a basic requirement. All participating political parties expressed their promise of cooperation in the strategy.
The Conference OutcomesThe conclusions of the working groups produced interesting solutions proposals. The aim of the Rural Platform will be to pursue the outcomes of the working groups.
‘Strategy and conception’ working group
1.Adopt a long-term apolitical strategy for a period of at least 20 years
2.Restrict sell off and irreversible land destruction
3.Restrict erosion, compaction, drying, salinization of land and support sustainable, nature-friendly farming practices
4.Systematically build a relationship to land, especially in children
5.Strengthen local and regional trade, development of consumer cooperatives
6.Transformation to territorially managed resource system
7.Support of science and research focusing on developing self-sufficiency, regional specialties and sustainable use of resources
Three priorities for a long-term political strategy:
1. Food Security
2. Health and nutrition
3. Rural employment
‘Land’ working group
1. Allow access for young and small farmers to 400 thousand hectares of abandoned land outside of Lpis
2. Identify abandoned ground plots at land reparcelling
3. Enable lawful termination of land lease with 5-year notice for land use by landowners, young and small farmers
4. Educate the landowners about their rights and obligations
5. Accelerate the Land Consolidation and Roep as national priority
6. Make the lease of agricultural land of the Slovak Land Fund equal and monitor the use of land managed by the Slovak Land Fund
7. Allow access to KAPOR database with accents for the owners nationwide to enable search for one’s ownership regardless of the lower/upper case
“New legislation for small farmers” working group
1. Farmers Act listing all applicable standards for farmers
2. Amend the ‘Land Act’, ensure ‘My land’ product. Open the EU accession treaty and redefine land from ‘commodity’ to ‘national wealth’. Amend the act on land renting (within the constitutional law renting cannot take precedence over ownership)
3. Proposal of long-term unified agricultural strategy
4. Simplification of the legislation for family farmers, amend the act on family business (inspiration in Austria or Poland)
5. Reduce VAT on farmers’ produce to 0%
6. Create contact points for support, help and guidance
‘Education’ working group
1. Survey of the educational needs in regions via online questionnaires, as well as the use of good relations with municipalities and other representatives of the Regions
2. Create educational portal of Rural Platform in order to provide informal learning
3. Create a database of learning courses, educational activities and experts who will sponsor the individual courses
‘Healthy school meals’ working group
1. Access to healthy meals for all and in all regions in Slovakia
2. Gaining theoretical and practical knowledge about growing food and preparing meals
3. The development of local resources, particularly regional quality food
4. Development of training and creating good working and living conditions for current and future farmers, food processing industry entrepreneurs and meal providers
5. Provide food equally to all children in all schools
6. Ensure the right to choose meals to satisfy individual’s dietary or other needs
‘Rural Development Program 2014-2020’ working group
1. Create national database of project development agencies
2. Regional guidance and advice on project and non-project aids
3. Make www.apa.sk more transparent
4. Enable access to information about the possibilities to obtain non-project support via the Agricultural Paying Agency
5. Extend the projects deadlines
‘Finance and business plans’ working group
1. Financing at all levels is available
2. The lack of quality business plans
3. The high dependence on grants
4. Sustainable business model is difficult to achieve
You can look at the video about the conference HERE