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AgriMin Oros says future National Strategic Program will encourage family farms

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Adrian Oros

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Adrian Oros declared on Friday in Oradea that the authorities plan to encourage until 2023 farming association, processing, storage, but also family farms, with the latter being the focus of the future National Strategic Program (PNS).

"We will work out a beneficial scoring system for cooperative farmers. I know this scares a lot of people, but cooperatives are the only real solution for the small and many who know how to produce but cannot sell because they don't have bargaining power with the big retailers or with their input suppliers. Fortunately, there are many strong cooperatives in the country, capable of performance and which can sell their entire production. They have reliable contracts, they have predictability. In these two years of transition, but also through the new National Strategic Program, from 2023 onwards, we will encourage farming associations, processing, storage and family farms," AgriMin Oros told a press conference on Friday.

According to him, Romania has been running since 2016 a trade deficit on agri-food products exactly in the years with the highest production, because it exports high amounts of raw materials - cereals and live animals - for low prices and imports processed food.

"In fact, we export subsidies. Both in 2018 and 2019 we recorded deficits of over one billion euros, specifically 1.2 billion euros in 2018 and 1.4 billion in 2019. Alone in the agri-food sector we lose over one billion euros every year. This is where we need a change in paradigm, exactly in order to encourage those who produce added value," he said.

The Minister of Agriculture also specified that the main goal in the new PNS will be to support family farms and the transformation of subsistence farms so that they become competitive on the market.

"Regrettably, in Romania we have about 840,000 farms and holdings, we probably have some of the largest farms in the world or in Europe, with tens of thousands of hectares, several hundred medium-sized farms and several hundred thousand subsistence farms. We need to speed up the process of transforming subsistence farms into market-resistant family farms. Across the entire Europe, the backbone of agriculture are family farms, not those with tens of thousands of hectares. And then again there are the mixed farms that integrate production, storage and processing, and which do not just export raw materials," Oros emphasized.

The AgriMin also highlighted some novelties related to the measures that will be launched this summer, such as the allocation of 12 million euros for small capacity slaughterhouses in the mountain area.

"Romania's slaughter capacity is about four times higher than the available livestock, but because of the poor choice of the location of these facilities, and because of the uninspired laws on disadvantaged areas, some counties have no slaughterhouse at all, others have three, but those are closed," Minister Oros said.

He also mentioned that half of the 42 million euros earmarked for the installation of young farmers will be directed to young people in the country, and half for young people who return to Romania from abroad. In addition about 50,000 hectares of land free of encumbrances have been identified for being leased out to young families.

"Although the law stipulates that young farmers should be given priority, this land has never been leased out to young farmers, but to old farmers and smart alecs. This year we will lease land to young farmers and we will try to monitor all the beneficiaries and guide them to access other schemes in the coming years, to help them put down roots," Adrian Oros concluded.

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