March 4. 2024. 6:33

The Daily

Read the World Today

Slovenian farmers up in arms over environmental restrictions


About 5,000 Slovenian farmers took to the streets in their tractors across nearly two dozen cities and towns Friday to protest conditions they say are making it near impossible to work with.

Taking a page from the Dutch farmers’ book, Slovenia’s farmers took to the streets with tractors.

The protest is “an expression of farmers’ dissatisfaction”, and activities will be stepped up unless the government starts considering our complaints, said Trade Union of Slovenian Farmers President Anton Medved.

The farmers have a variety of complaints, some of which are specific to their local environment – for example, the wolf and brown bear population expansion in southwest Slovenia that has led to frequent livestock predation.

The group’s protest also came partly in response to a recent Constitutional Court ruling that severely restricted pesticide use in a water protection area around the capital Ljubljana, even though, more generally, farmers feel that environmental policies, and the latest EU guidelines on farming, are encroaching on traditional agricultural practices.

Farmers have been “sacrificed for the environmental experiments of activists and civil servants … Green countryside and national prosperity are the results of the work of farmers. We will not let that be destroyed,” Medved said.

The farmers demand that the government make certain areas designated as Natura 2000 sites are scaled back. Slovenia has 355 Natura 2000 sites, 324 designated under the Habitats Directive and 31 under the Birds Directive. Natura 2000 covers more than a third of Slovenia’s territory.

“We expect they will receive us within ten days. If not, we will step up our activities,” said Medved.

Medved said the protest was “apolitical”, but the dissatisfaction has been egged on by the centre-right opposition, which has directly or indirectly endorsed several recent demonstrations against the government.

(Sebastijan R. Maček | sta.si)