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Horta ,  November 28, 2019

2020 Plan to drive more progress and results for the agricultural sector in the Azores, says João Ponte

The Regional Secretary for Agriculture and Forestry stated today at the Legislative Assembly in Horta that the 2020 Plan will continue to drive more progress and positive results for agriculture in the Azores. In fact, it will ensure the strengthening of infrastructure modernisation, the improvement of farmers' working conditions and the reduction of costs, thus strengthening the sector's competitiveness and empowering it to meet future challenges.
 
"We want to improve the water and electricity supply to farms and to have better agricultural roads as references in terms of modernity, good working conditions and higher levels of competitiveness and income improvement," said João Ponte. According to him, the 2020 Plan focuses on improving the efficiency and profitability of farms.
 
During the debate on the proposals for the 2020 Plan and Budget, the government official stressed that the agricultural sector has followed a “solid path” over the course of this legislative term. This is evidenced by the fact that the average productivity of dairy farms increased 10%, the direct revenue from milk production grew 12% and beef exports increased 15%. Furthermore, 146 young farmers have joined the sector, 550 modernisation projects amounting to 52 million Euros of investment have been approved and another 120 farms have been fitted with electricity.
 
In turn, João Ponte revealed that the production area for the agricultural diversification sector grew 640 hectares and certified wine rose from 120 thousand litres to 400 thousand litres. According to him, these indicators "reflect the dynamics and hard work, and reinforce confidence in the future of a sector full of potential."
 
In his speech, João Ponte pointed out that, as of late October, the implementation rate of the 2019 Plan stood at 71%, i.e., five percentage points more than in the same period of 2018, an indicator evidencing that the Regional Government is investing more in agriculture to benefit farmers.
 
Regarding the 2020 Plan, with an allocation of 56 million Euros, the Regional Secretary for Agriculture and Forestry stated that it confirms that agriculture remains a priority for the Regional Government and is committed to improving the efficiency and profitability of farms. This will be achieved through the implementation of new programmes such as PROAGRI and I9AGRI, but also with the Young Farmer programme and the new agricultural cessation scheme; the latter will create opportunities for the installation of younger farmers in the sector.
 
João Ponte announced today that three calls were launched under the PRORURAL+ programme, with an overall allocation of nearly 13 million Euros, to continue stimulating investments in the modernisation of farms, supporting young people and strengthening sustainability of the agricultural sector.
 
“We are launching a call today that will extend the commitment period for another year on agri-environmental, climate and organic farming measures, thus guaranteeing a 7.5 million-Euro allocation in 2020 to 1,704 farmers who will complete the final year of their commitment in 2019," said João Ponte.
 
The Regional Secretary added that another two call will be launched today, with an overall allocation of five million Euros, to support projects for the modernisation of farms and the first installation of young farmers.
 
In his speech, João Ponte considered that the biggest challenge of the Azorean agriculture concerns the projection of its visibility and the recognition of the value of its genuine, differentiated and quality productions. In this regard, he pointed out, as good examples, the investment of industries in pasture-raised and organic milk and the certification of butter as a PDO product, Additionally, he mentioned the promotional campaign for cheese underway in Canada, an initiative promoted by the Azorean Milk and Dairy Centre (CALL), or the Dairy Strategic Plan, which is being finalised.
 
After an investment cycle of 15 million Euros in the regional slaughter network and he certification of all slaughterhouses in 2020, João Ponte said it was time to focus efforts on increasing the value of regional meat, a strategy involves the investment in meat quality and the organisation of the sector. In this context, the Regional Strategy Centre for Azores Meat (CERCA) will be important to strengthen this sector in technological terms.
 
As for the Common Agricultural Policy in the 2021-2027 period, which is now entering the final negotiation phase, the government official ensured that the Regional Government will not give up fighting so that Azorean farmers can benefit from the same increase in POSEI aid as their counterparts in the country will benefit in the CAP first pillar.
 
"We will work hard and committedly towards a better CAP proposal in the rural development programme, the creation of a strategic plan of its own and a transitional scheme between frameworks that will guarantee the aid to investment and income,” said João Ponte.



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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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