The Speaker of the Sejm in Żywiec: A bill is being drafted to support, among other things, pastoralism

- We meet the problems faced by highlanders. The Carpathian parliamentary team is preparing a draft mountain law, the project of support for sustainable development, pastoralism, agricultural culture, small multi-generational farms - said Speaker of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński, opening the conference devoted to the problems of the Carpathians.

- We are aware that the EU support is not enough. We must, on the part of the state authorities, the government, involving provincial governments, launch projects that provide greater support for mountain areas, especially pastoralism - he pointed out. - In comparison with the Western European countries there is unfortunately a very big difference, and our goal is to minimize this difference. We want to facilitate  development of the Carpathians in agriculture, while taking care to preserve the climate, cultural and natural values that have been close to us for centuries - said Kuchciński.

The participants put the greatest emphasis on the need for changes in regulations supporting shepherding. - If we do not renew, do not support sheep breeding, it will be difficult for us to stop overgrowing of mountain areas, which will also affect the aesthetics of the landscape - argued the Marshal.

Baca Piotr Kohut from Koniaków, a shepherd, assured that most countries have such laws and besides financial support shepherds need to change the legislation. - Pastoralism has a cultural character there, for example in Piedmont or Germany, where it develops wonderfully. In Poland the right to graze must be guaranteed. Now our activity is often treated as illegal - he said. - We, shepherds, are neither breeders nor farmers. A rancher is a gazda, and farmers are in the lowlands. We shepherds, in order to preserve tradition for the sake of the sheep and the products, have to roam the mountains and pastures. The sheep should go free grazing. However, this is where misunderstandings and conflicts arise - he said.

Marek Kuchciński emphasized that tangible effects will be brought by actions on the international level. For 10 years we have been engaging neighboring parliaments in various forms of support. - We have launched international cooperation in order to maintain biodiversity of the Carpathians, this unique area across the whole continent. Our efforts give a perspective that in the next EU budget we will be able to finalize the Carpathian strategy, following the example of the Alpine or Baltic strategy. It is an instrument in the revelopmentWe are looking forward to a project that will facilitate cooperation and enable the use of money from various sources of funding - state, EU, international. - The Carpathians have an impact on life in the whole country - he said. As one of the examples he mentioned drinking water, which in his opinion has a chance to soon become a strategic resource, like gas or oil,  draws its source in the Carpathians. We also pay attention to flood issues and necessary safeguards," he said.

In conclusion, Marek Kuchciński recalled Prime Minister Morawiecki's proposals, i.e. support for broadly defined cultural policy in rural areas, among others. support for community centers in small towns, support for arts groups....

text/ photo M. Olejnik

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