“Farmers need adequate economic incentives to make environmental commitments. This is the way to compensate them for the higher environmental standards imposed on agricultural products and food”. This was what the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Prof. Dr. Hristo Bozukov stated during the informal meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Lisbon, Portugal.
According to him, it is necessary to continue to look for opportunities for reduction of socio-economic disparities between countries, regions and individual producers in order to ensure stability of agricultural sector in the long run. He pointed out that policy instruments need to be more flexible and optimally tailored to the specific characteristics and needs of each Member State.
"The topic of food systems, innovation and natural resource management is extremely relevant, both in the context of the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 and in view of the final reform of the Common Agricultural Policy," said Prof. Bozukov.
Bulgaria considers that the provision of adequate funding is essential during the process of transition to a "green economy". This step will also reduce the risk of abandonment of agricultural activities and depopulation of rural areas.
"We need to strengthen this financial instrument, which will make an even greater contribution to the implementation of environmental and biodiversity goals by complying with the requirements of enhanced conditionality in the future. That is why we are concerned about the 10 percent threshold mandatory redistribution of funds for direct payments. The threshold together with the increased rate for eco-schemes leads to an excessive amount reduction in the basic support of farmers and a violation of the balance between the three types of sustainability - economic, social and environmental. A minimum mandatory rate of 7.5 percent redistribution of payments is a balanced decision", explained the Minister of Agriculture.
In addition, he said that coupled support, which is the other tool for achieving the social and economic sustainability of the sector, must be maintained at least at the current level of 13 + 2 percent.
According to Prof. Bozukov, one of the most serious challenges before the agricultural sector is the effective management of water resources. In the context of the climate change effects, the topic of irrigation is extremely important. "We consider it a priority to adopt the presidency's proposal to ensure the possibility of financing up to 100 percent of investments in irrigation infrastructure," he concluded.