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Vila do Porto ,  June 17, 2019

Good management and implementation of Community funds has been decisive for development of agriculture in the Azores, says João Ponte

The Regional Secretary for Agriculture and Forestry stated in Vila do Porto that the good management and implementation of Community funds has been crucial for the development of agriculture in the Azores. In this regard, he stressed highlighted the success of its implementation as the commitment rate in PRORURAL+ stands at 85% and the implementation rate at 58%.
"When we look at the agricultural sector today, it is clear that these funds have been instrumental in promoting a resilient and diversified agricultural sector. Hence, it will be better prepared to meet the challenges of supporting environmental protection, promoting measures to mitigate climate change and strengthening the economic fabric of rural areas," said João Ponte.
The government official spoke at the opening session of the 5th PRORURAL+ Monitoring Committee taking place today on the island of Santa Maria. The event is being attended by representatives of the European Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Regional Government, the Azores Agricultural Federation, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Azores, the Association of Municipalities of the Autonomous Region of the Azores and environmental associations, among other entities.
Despite the complex and bureaucratic management of the PRORURAL+ programme, João Ponte considered that its implementation in the Azores has been successful.
"We are on the way towards the full implementation of funds. In fact, there is a considerable demand from farmers to modernise their farms, there is a significant adherence of young farmers who wish to enter this sector, and there is great confidence in local companies to invest in the rural world," stated the government official.
"As of late April, we had received 12,500 requests for support, corresponding to eligible investment of 334 million Euros. Of this investment, about 45% concerns measure 4, that is, investments in physical assets, which represent a global investment of 151 million Euros," revealed João Ponte.
In the same period, the Regional Secretary mentioned the approval of 334 first installation projects with a public investment of seven million Euros and the submission of 280 requests for support under the LEADER approach with a public investment of 22 million Euros.
According to João Ponte, these are clear indicators of the confidence shown by different players in the agricultural and in rural development sectors. With these investments, they have boosted the Region's economic and social growth and development.
After the European elections, which will be followed by the establishment of the European Commission, João Ponte stressed that the negotiations and the decision on the Common Agricultural Policy for the 2021-2027 period will continue. The European Commission's proposal under discussion is more restrictive than the current CAP.
"With regard to the 1st pillar, Portugal's agricultural budget grows 4.8% in the Region and a political commitment was made at the highest level to maintain the allocation under the POSEI programme," stressed João Ponte. According to him, "it is neither acceptable nor desirable that Portugal, as Member State, will benefit from an increase in funds under 1st pillar, while the Azores maintain the same amount of aid."
"Whether in the European framework or internally, a solution will have to be found in order to prevent this unjustified and inexplicable arbitrariness.
As for the 2nd pillar, the currently expected reduction stands at 15% for Portugal, which will have a more negative impact than in the EU-27 average. The amounts granted under the 2nd pillar account for 50% of Portugal's agricultural budget and 25% in the EU-27 average.
Therefore, the Regional Secretary defended that "it is necessary to focus the discussion of the multiannual financial framework on the distribution by the respective Member States. On the one hand, one cannot defend a process of internal convergence and more equitable direct payments and, on the other hand, impose random cuts regardless of the proportion of rural development aid granted to each country."
Moreover, João Ponte defended that the Azores, as an Outermost Region, with their own specificities as well as their political, legislative and administrative autonomy should maintain their own strategic plan, as is the case of the current CAP. This is especially important as the soil and climate conditions, the average size of farms and the archipelago's isolation make agricultural activity more difficult, requiring different approaches and goals to ensure environmental sustainability and the progress of rural areas.
"The scheduling for the development and adoption of the strategic plans leads us to believe that a transition period of one to two years from one framework to another is essential to ensure aid to farmers and the financial resources to continue modernising agriculture," stated the government official. 
As he emphasised, "it is fundamental to secure the profitability of farms and the development of local economies during the transition period of Community frameworks."
João Ponte also called for the mobilisation of all players at this crucial stage of negotiations so that CAP may be capable of supporting farmers' income and resilience, contributing to climate change adaptation, promoting sustainable development, attracting young farmers and contributing to the growth and development of rural áreas.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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