The Social Committee of the Council of Ministers on the prospects for rural development

More than two years ago, we focused on the development of the Polish countryside. Over this time, we have achieved positive results, but we do not forget about the challenges faced by the Polish farmer – said Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło at the Wednesday meeting of the Committee. That is why we are currently working on specific solutions, we are talking about problems and effective measures for the residents of villages and smaller towns – she added. The Social Committee of the Council of Ministers positively rated the directions contained in the draft Strategy for Sustainable Rural Development, Agriculture and Fisheries 2020 (2030) and the Pact for Rural Areas 2020 (2030).

Photo: P. Tracz / Chancellery of the Prime Minister

Profitability of the agricultural production

The Strategy for Sustainable Rural Development, Agriculture And Fisheries 2020 (2030) is based on four pillars. The first is the profitability of the agricultural production. It contains the issues concerning, inter alia, the development of agricultural markets, access to domestic and foreign sources of financing for the agricultural development, transformation and enlargement of farms. In addition, the tasks related to the modernisation and increased innovation of farms and agri-food enterprises have been described.

Also, it was proposed to promote new cooperation models with participation of producer groups and organisations, cooperatives and other operators supporting the export of agricultural products. It is also planned to further combat the unfair competition in the national and international food market. Also the development of agri-food processing and agricultural enterprise will be supported, so will the production of functional food (with additional qualities) and organic food.

Improving the quality of life

The second pillar contains projects related to the quality of life and the environment in rural areas. Infrastructure development will be a key issue. It has been planned, inter alia, to build local roads, gas networks and to improve water and wastewater management. Demographic policy will be supported. It is also planned to regenerate villages and small towns as well as to develop their tourist functions. Rural areas will be promoted both in cultural and investment terms. The links between rural areas and small towns will also be strengthened. Small towns and municipal centres are to be local growth and activation centres. The measures to protect the environment and climate will also be important, e.g. investing in renewable energy sources.

Non-agricultural work

The third pillar covers non-agricultural jobs and active society. Under this planned, a number of activities aimed at creating and managing new non-agricultural jobs are planned. The development of non-agricultural enterprise will be promoted. The measures are also planned to improve the professional qualifications of the rural populations. The activity of local groups and common activities in the non-profit formula will be supported.

Agricultural administration

The fourth pillar is the efficient agricultural administration. This section contains institutional and organisational changes in management of the rural development and agriculture. What is planned is further consolidation of the agricultural administration and official food control system. The agricultural science and advisory system is to be modernised in order to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and innovation in agriculture. In addition, the agricultural education system will be developed and the institutional and organisational dimension of crisis management in rural areas and in agriculture will be improved.

Implementation of strategic projects in agriculture and rural areas

The pact was announced before the election in the Law and Justice programme. We have kept our word – we have developed a project that is to increase the standard of life in the Polish countryside in real terms. Now, we are starting a discussion on it – said the Minister of Agriculture Krzysztof Jurgiel.  The Pact for Rural Areas 2020 (2030) is an implementing paper for the Strategy. The draft Pact points to nearly 200 projects, programmes and activities that are fundamental to the socio-economic development of those areas lying in the competence of all ministers. They include projects and activities dedicated to the countryside and agriculture, as well as those of horizontal nature, addressed to the whole society. In the future, they will be better targeted and monitored in terms of meeting the needs of rural areas. The draft Pact consists of the same four pillars as the Strategy.

For the restructuring of small farms

The first pillar on the profitability of the agricultural production underlines the role of direct payments in supporting and stabilising the profitability of production and the operation of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 for the modernisation and restructuring of the agri-food sector. It has also been assumed that small farms will continue to receive aid in starting up their activity. A bonus of PLN 60 thousand is paid for the implementation of a business plan aimed at restructuring a small farm. Support can be used by about 63 thousand farms. Another activity consists in helping modernise farms by refunding, inter alia, the costs of their restructuring. Aid will also be provided for reparcelling of agricultural and forestry land. Preferential loans will be maintained to stimulate the development of the agri-food sector. Subsidies include, inter alia, investment loan, land purchase loan, loan repayment sureties and guarantees. For this purpose, PLN 101.5 million in 2018 and more than PLN 1.3 billion for 2019-2022 have been planned.

Bonuses for young farmers

On the other hand, the second pillar on improving the quality of life in rural areas provides for, inter alia, a continuation of paying bonuses to young farmers starting up their activities. Also, initiatives to develop transport (road, rail) infrastructure will be implemented. Further work will be carried out on modernising local energy infrastructure so as to reduce the risk of power cuts in rural areas. The Polish countryside is also to have access to the broadband Internet.

Facilities in access to new technologies

The third pillar provides for the further payment of, e.g., bonuses amounting to PLN 100 thousand for farmers, spouses of farmers and their family members for implementing a business plan assuming establishing the economic activity in the non-agricultural sectors. It has also been proposed to facilitate access of farms to new technologies, which will improve their competitiveness. In the context of demographic change, efforts will be made for the benefit of social inclusion of the elderly and women as well as those wishing to find work outside the agricultural sector. Stimulating the activity of local communities and building social enterprise in rural areas also remain a major challenge. Therefore, initiatives focused on the development of economy and social solidarity will be supported.

Innovation and Development Fund

The last – fourth pillar, dedicated to the efficient agricultural administration, is focused around the effectiveness of the functioning of public institutions. The creation of, inter alia, the Innovation and Development Fund has been planned. It is to provide national funds for financing innovative and development projects in the agri-food industry, renewable energy sources in agriculture and with regard to the rural development. The projects guaranteeing stable financing for the research and development activities of research institutes will be continued. Efforts are and will be conducted to establish the Network of Research Institutes in the field of agricultural science and the Agricultural Research and Innovation Council. I would like to thank the Minister of Agriculture, Krzysztof Jurgiel, for having presented the drafts of the Strategy and Pact for Rural Areas to the Committee participants – said Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło.

In addition, the Social Committee of the Council of Ministers has read the information of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on the protest of farmers.

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