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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » May 31, 2012
Polska... tastes good!
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Polish Farmers Keen to Use EU Funds
May 31, 2012   
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Polish farmers have received zl.34 billion from the Agency for the Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture (ARiMR) under the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program.

Poland leads the way in the EU in terms of carrying out the Rural Development Program. Germany, which is the runner-up, has disbursed around zl.2.8 billion less to its farmers in zloty terms and in France the payments have been around zl.4 billion lower. The disbursement of grants as part of the Rural Development Programs increased sharply in 2010 when the agency paid out zl.8.2 billion to beneficiaries and the figure improved further last year to zl.10 billion. As a result, Poland has strengthened its status as the European leader.

The budget of the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program approaches zl.70 billion and over 90 percent of the amount has been absorbed so far. Apart from more than zl.34 billion paid out to farmers and enterprises, the Agency for the Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture plans to disburse some of the absorbed funds as part of long-term obligations it has adopted under contracts it has signed. The obligations include the payment of structural pensions awarded in previous years and afforestation grants.

The agency still has around zl.10 billion to distribute as part of the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program and will pay out the funds after it receives a new round of applications. The agency is the exclusive coordinator of 16 measures under the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program, with 13.7 billion euros assigned for these. Funds for the program’s eight other measures, known as delegated measures, are distributed by province governments, the Agricultural Market Agency (ARR) and the Foundation of Assistance Programs for Agriculture (FAPA). A total of 3.5 billion euros is available as part of these measures.

Distributing funds available under the Rural Development Program is a tremendous effort. As of April 20 this year, farmers, agricultural and food-processing enterprises and other beneficiaries, including Local Operation Groups, submitted almost 321,000 applications to the Agency for the Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture. This figure does not include over 700,000 applications which are submitted every year for payments to less favored areas and applications for agri-environmental payments (100,000 annually).

The agency pays special attention to the disbursement of funds earmarked for the modernization of agriculture and the development of enterprise in rural areas. Most applicants for financial assistance under the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program have already obtained their funds. Other beneficiaries who have signed contracts with the agency will receive assistance after they complete the projects slated for co-financing and account for the projects correctly.

The Agency for the Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture is now in a peak season when it comes to implementing the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program. Last year it began accepting applications for financial assistance as part of all the measures under the program. A huge number of applications has arrived. The high interest was in part due to an intense promotional campaign. Some of the most popular measures include “Setting Up and Developing a Micro-Enterprise,” “Easier Start for Young Farmers,” “Modernization of Farms,” and “Diversity in Business outside Agriculture.” The agency’s regional branches have registered double the number of applications compared with previous years.

This huge number of applications has prompted Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki to double the amount of funds available as part of the most popular measures. According to Sawicki, Poland cannot afford to miss the unprecedented opportunity to quickly create tens of thousands of new jobs in rural areas where they are urgently needed.

The way the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program has been implemented so far indicates the program will be a success, as shown by the payments made, funds scheduled for disbursement under the agency’s obligations, and the fact that new rounds of accepting applications are under way. As in the case of the assistance programs in 2004-2006, the 2007-2013 Rural Development Program will be carried out in full and funds available as part of it will be absorbed in their entirety.
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