The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Ms. Hilal Elver, has ended an eight-day visit to Poland calling on the Government to consider the impact on small-scale farmers and the most vulnerable in society when legislating and implementing national laws.
Geneve, April 25, 2016.- “Small-scale farmers and the vulnerable groups in society will be affected the most in Poland where the economy is in transition from centralized system to market economy,” the expert said.
According to the UN expert, various rigorous regulations and State control creates cumbersome procedures for small-scale farmers who make up a large proportion in the agricultural industry in Poland.
“I am concerned that new legislation, with good intention, may nevertheless have unintended consequences which could negatively impact small-scale farmers and family farms.”
The Polish Parliament recently adopted the “Act on Halting Sale of Real Estate of the State Treasury Agricultural Property Reserve and Amending Certain Other Acts”, which will regulate buying and selling of farmland. Pending the President’s signature, the proposed Act is expected to come into force on 1 May 2016 just in time for when the 12-year grace period for sales of agricultural land to foreigners after EU accession expires this month.
Innovative agricultural technologies and EU subsidies helped Polish farmers to increase production, however, these farmers currently face difficulties in accessing domestic and international food markets.
“Furthermore, a political embargo affecting Polish agriculture had an enormous impact on farmers in Poland. Unfortunately, political embargoes have a significant impact on the livelihood of ordinary persons, such as the Polish apple growers,” Ms. Elver expressed.
According to the UN expert, due to changes in the recent modern diet and dietary habits in Poland, obesity is an emerging problem in Poland.
The UN expert welcomed the recent Amendment to the Polish Food and Nutrition Safety Law, which requires that the food used in school cafeterias must comply with nutrition standards. This new regulation imposes severe restrictions on the excessive usage of salt, sugar and other additives to food in the school lunch menu. “I believe that the new regulation will shape healthier diets and lead to healthier and better lives for children”, Ms. Elver said.
Moreover, the Special Rapporteur experienced that child poverty in Poland is still an issue that the Government should address immediately.
Ms. Hilal Elver visited Poland at the invitation of the Government and met with various national authorities. She also held discussions with non-governmental organizations, farmers, and various producers. The Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to be presented in March 2017 at the Human Rights Council on the main findings of his visit.