Online, 15 November 2022
Address by EU Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski at public forum on “Small peasant and Farming Households under the War and During Post-War Reconstruction of Ukraine: Political Dialogue”
Honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen
It is my great pleasure to send you this message, and to make a small contribution to this important forum.
Let me first applaud to the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian farmers.
Since the beginning of the war, you have risked your lives to continue your essential work.
Thanks to your brave efforts, Ukraine has been able to maintain its crucial role as the bread basket of Europe, and the world.
For this, I thank you sincerely.
EU support for Ukraine small farmers
The European Commission has taken several concrete steps to help the Ukrainian farming community, including small scale farmers.
For example, we have launched the project on “Institutional and Policy Reform for Smallholder Agriculture”.
Through this project, we support Ukraine’s Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food to develop a new agriculture and rural development strategy, which takes into account small farms and their sustainable development.
Secondly, we have provided €50 million for the Production Support Grant scheme.
This scheme was established as a direct payment instrument to support registered small farms of less than 120 hectares, or with up to 100 milking cows per farm.
I am very pleased that in September, about 12,000 small farms could benefit from this scheme, with a total of almost €22 million already committed.
Third, we have worked alongside international partners and organisations on a number of shared initiatives.
For example, we have contributed to the establishment of the State Agrarian Register, which has proven to be an important tool to channel programmes and funds for registered small farms – I strongly encourage all farmers to register.
Along with the FAO, we have supported the strengthening of agricultural value chains for several products produced by small farms, such as mountain cheeses, berries, and other products.
The European Commission has also worked to ensure that Ukraine’s agricultural products can reach all countries, especially those at biggest risk of food insecurity.
Since May of this year, more than 14 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, oilseeds and other products have been exported via our Solidarity Lanes initiative.
I do not have to explain to you, that next to the Solidarity Lanes, it is crucial that the Black Sea routes remain open for Ukrainian cereals exports.
The European Commission is fully supporting UN efforts to this end.
From the current crisis, we have learned the importance of solidarity and co-operation. We must take these lessons, and apply them to the challenges we face in the future.
As we look forward, I believe that we must put small farms at the core of our vision.
Small family farms are essential for prosperous rural areas and productive agriculture; in turn, they are essential for the future of Europe.
In our reformed Common Agricultural Policy, we have set a number of objectives to build more resilient and sustainable farming systems over the coming years.
We aim for:
- Environmental sustainability – including climate action, biodiversity preservation, and care for natural resources
- For social sustainability – for example, by providing stronger support for smaller farms and young farmers
- And for economic sustainability – for example, by ensuring stable incomes and fairer value chains.
We cannot build a more sustainable food system alone; therefore, we wish to share these objectives with Ukraine, and with our partners across the world.
To overcome our challenges, both in the present and in the future, we must strengthen our co-operation, and maintain our momentum.
We must continue to support Ukraine’s agricultural sector, especially the essential role of small farmers, and bring them closer to Europe.
In my home country of Poland, we say: “Our farmers feed us and defend us”.
These words are in reference to the history of Poland; they now reflect the present reality of Ukraine.
Since the beginning of the war, the farmers of Ukraine have defended their land, their neighbours, and their nation.
In doing so, they have defended us, in the European Union and across the world – they have defended our democracy and our food security.
Now is our moment to honour the courage they have shown, and the sacrifices they have made.
Now is our moment to defend the farmers of Ukraine.
Source – EU Commission