Back Meeting of the Agricultural Committees of the Parliaments of Visegrad Countries, 13-14 October 2022, Bratislava
Under the Slovak Presidency of the Visegrad Cooperation, a meeting of the V4 Parliamentary Committees on Agriculture was held on 13-14 October 2022 in Bratislava. At the event, the Committee on Agriculture of the Hungarian National Assembly was represented by Vice-Chairs Balázs Győrffy and Balázs Barkóczi. In addition to the host, Slovakia, the event was attended by delegations of both Houses of the Polish Parliament, led by Committee Chairs, Vice-Chairs representing Hungary and the Czech Chamber of Deputies and a Member of the relevant Committee of the Czech Senate.
Key topics of the meeting included “strategic plan of the Common Agricultural Policy 2023-2027 and rural development”, “water as a strategic raw material and land as a non-renewable natural resource” and the “food-safety and epizootological situation”. Keynote speeches on each topic were delivered by Martin Kováč, State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic, Katarína Mihaľová, Director-General of the Rural Development and Direct Payments Section, and Jozef Bíreš, Director of the State Veterinary and Food Administration.
During the professional dialogue and exchange of experience between the participants, Vice-Chair Balázs Győrffy provided a detailed account of issues such as this year’s drought damage in Hungary and stressed the importance of improving irrigation and raising public awareness. He also highlighted that it would be crucial to provide access to EU funds for research into alternative substances to effectively substitute plant protection products being phased out. Robert Telus from the Polish Sejm pointed out the importance of support for farmers where their lands are used for water retention or the implementation of renewables, while Jerzy Chróścikowski from the Polish Senate underlined the role of efficient farming and breeding practices to preserve values. Tomáš Dubský from the Czech Chamber of Deputies highlighted the issues of food waste and the dual quality of food, while Herbert Pavera from the Czech Senate pointed out the differences between EU Member States in the use of plant protection products and the challenges faced by young farmers in gaining access to land. Jaroslav Karahuta, the Chair of the Slovak partner committee, stressed the importance of bringing rivers back into their original beds, utilising EU funds and direct selling for farmers. In his opinion, a portion of the huge amounts involved in carbon emissions trading could be used for improving the water-retention capacity of soil. Finally, praising the achievements of the meeting, he highlighted the importance of enhancing the V4 cooperation.
In conclusion to the event, heads of delegations adopted joint conclusions expressing their opinions on the European Commission’s proposal on the use of plant protection products, and underlining the crucial role of water and the importance of the long-term sustainability and fertility of soil and agricultural areas. With regard to food security, they stressed the importance of the stability of cropping and breeding and proposed the development of minimum standards for food imported from third countries into the EU in order to ensure a level playing field and better consumer protection.