The Slovak agro group is appealing to the state to change the conditions for granting state aid to farmers for natural disasters.

The problem relates mainly to crop losses due to the enormous drought. This affected all farmers back in 2017 and financial compensation for it came to them at the end of 2019."Our farms have been affected by the dry weather to varying degrees, but crop losses have averaged between 30 and 50 per cent compared to previous years. As the state aid was intended only for small and medium-sized enterprises, large enterprises were excluded from it, our company lost 700 thousand euros," criticises Tomáš Kohút, CEO of SANAGRO.

Currently, ten farms in western and central Slovakia, which together employ almost 300 employees, belong to the SANAGRO group. This is why the farms would automatically be identified as ineligible applicants for subsidies. Large enterprises are classified as companies with more than 250 employees.

"We consider the decision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Slovak Republic and the Agricultural Payment Agency to be very unfortunate and unfair to the companies that employ the most people in the agro-sector and grow the most crops on Slovak land. Natural disasters, which include an enormous drought, do not choose whether they affect only a certain proportion of farmers. We will certainly appeal to the current and future government to change the conditions of state subsidies," adds Tomáš Kohút, adding that the SANAGRO group did not submit an application for state aid in the end. One of the solutions, according to him, could be if the farmers joined together and jointly requested a change in the aid scheme, which would then go to the European Commission for comments.

For the first time in history, Slovak farmers have received compensation for drought. The amount of aid was determined on the basis of several factors. Entrepreneurs had to prove the amount of crop damage, which had to exceed 30 per cent according to an examination of crops over the last 3 to 5 years, and they had to prove farm insurance, business in areas with disadvantaged conditions or the use of an irrigation system.

According to the data, 140 farmers have been compensated, with approximately 15.5 million euros paid out of the 17-million-euro estimated compensation budget from the state budget.

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