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of the National Review Union 

of Agricultural Production Cooperatives

FOR THE PERIOD 2022-2026

Warsaw, June 2022


of the National Review Union

of Agricultural Production Cooperatives

for the years 2022 - 2026

Pursuant to the Programme Resolution adopted by the 7th National Assembly of Delegates of the Members of the National Review Union of Agricultural Production Cooperatives in November 2017, in 2017-2020 the overriding objective of the National Union's activity was to undertake multidirectional actions for the improvement of the functioning of cooperative farms under the conditions of the changed rules of the EU Common Agricultural Policy in the new financial perspective 2014-2020 and to provide the affiliated cooperatives and cooperative unions with comprehensive assistance in the extensive use of the financial resources provided for in the structural funds for agriculture and rural areas.

An important area of activity of the National Union was also to strive for equal treatment of all farm operators, regardless of their area and legal form.

In this respect, efforts were made to recognise agricultural production cooperatives as multi-family farms and to remove restrictions on the acquisition of agricultural land both from private individuals and from State Treasury resources, as well as to remove restrictions on access to RDP aid funds for larger area farms.

In the sphere of cooperative legislation, the National Union, cooperating with the National Co-operative Council and other branch cooperative unions, made intensive efforts to prevent the adoption of such amendments to the Act - Cooperative Law, which would weaken the self-governing nature of cooperative organisations and be inconsistent with the needs and expectations of co-operators themselves.

From the perspective of the passing term, it may be stated that the objectives stated above have not been achieved, however, especially with regard to the possibility of using aid funds under RDP 2014-2020 by cooperative farms, which are larger in terms of area, and the purchase and sale of agricultural property by these farms without obtaining the consent of the Agricultural Property Agency (currently - the National Agricultural Support Centre). The ineffectiveness of the measures taken in this regard was the result of the adoption by the newly appointed Government of the Republic of Poland and the current parliamentary majority of the doctrine of special preference for

 individual farmers running family farms and the failure to provide greater support for large-scale farms with the character of legal entities, including those in cooperative form.

On the other hand, we were successful in our efforts to prevent the previous term of the Polish Parliament from adopting a new Act - the Cooperative Law, which was unfavourable for the cooperative movement.

Taking the above into account, it should be assumed that in the next, seventh term of the National Union, the key task should be to continue the previously undertaken activities in the field of equal treatment of agricultural producers both in the sphere of using the EU and national aid funds and in the sphere of agricultural property trading as well as in other spheres of agriculture and rural areas.

In order to realise these intentions, the previous achievements of the National Union from 1992-2022 in representing the interests of agricultural production cooperatives at the national level and carrying out training and advisory, lustration, publishing and promotional activities will be used.

1) As before - the representation and defence of the interests of agricultural production cooperatives at the national level will require the maintenance of permanent contacts of the National Union with the Parliament, the Government and other institutions and organisations dealing with the problems of agriculture, rural areas and agricultural cooperatives. These contacts should consist in active participation in the legislative processes for the formation of new legal acts on economic and agricultural law, the provision of financial assistance from EU funds and the national budget, and the tax and insurance system in agriculture.

In order to increase the effectiveness of activities in this respect, the National Union will expand and strengthen cooperation with other professional agricultural organisations, cooperative unions and the National Cooperative Council. In particular, efforts will be made to intensify cooperation with individual farmers' organisations in order to win their support for the equalization of cooperative and individual farmers.

2) The solution of the difficult problems of the rural areas and agriculture in the years to come will depend increasingly on macroeconomic and not just sectoral policies. Therefore, it is necessary to strive for support for agriculture and the rural environment to be a permanent and important element of the work of the entire Government, and not only of the Minister responsible for agriculture, agricultural markets and rural areas.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of these activities, it is necessary to continue the support of agriculture from the national budget in selected development priorities, which should be adequately reflected not only in the current budget laws, but, above all, in the strategic programmes of economic development of the country in the long term.

In this regard, the environment of agricultural production cooperatives appreciated the fact that the Government of the Republic of Poland approved the "Strategy for Responsible Development until 2020 (with an outlook until 2030)" and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development adopted the "Strategy for Sustainable Development of Rural Areas, Agriculture and Fisheries 2010-2020 (2030)" and the "Programme for the Development of Main Agricultural Markets in Poland for 2016-2020", as well as undertook work on the development of the "Rural Pact for 2017-2020 (2030)”.

However, these important strategic documents do not sufficiently demonstrate the role and importance, in the further development of the country, of cooperatives including agricultural cooperatives.

In view of the above, the National Union, together with the National Cooperative Council and other cooperative organisations, will endeavour to ensure that, as part of the periodic review of these documents, appropriate provisions relating to cooperatives are included. This is because it is not only an important element of economic activity, but also a form of shaping co-responsibility and building social ties, it spreads ownership and is a good school of democracy.

An important area of activity in this respect should also be the participation of representatives of regional cooperative unions in the work of provincial teams, established on the initiative of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, analysing opportunities and threats and potential directions of rural development in individual provinces until 2030.

In the "Rural Package for 2017-2020 (2030)", the priorities should be:

- creating conditions for the economic development of farms, including those run by agricultural production cooperatives, especially by improving the profitability of agricultural production, but at the same time supporting the development of non-agricultural economic activities. This will allow to increase the attractiveness of rural areas for their inhabitants and to develop entrepreneurship in local communities;

- strengthening support for an economically sustainable agricultural sector while taking into account environmental sustainability;

- striving to increase the competitiveness of the agri-food processing sector by improving the quality of agricultural products and adjusting it to market requirements.

3) A great opportunity for Polish agriculture and rural areas, including agricultural production cooperatives, may be the use of all possible forms of financial support resulting from the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union. Therefore, public authorities should do everything not to lose the aid funds granted to Poland for the years 2021-2027. This concerns above all ensuring appropriate national co-financing, streamlining the systems for receiving and processing applications and paying due subsidies, as well as providing agricultural producers and other beneficiaries with appropriate advisory and organisational and legal assistance. An important measure should also be the reduction to a necessary minimum of formal and bureaucratic requirements related both to the application for financial aid and to the implementation and settlement of this aid.

4) Past experience of the implementation of the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 shows that the specificities of larger farms, including those of a cooperative nature, have not been adequately taken into account in the various measures.

The National Union will endeavour to ensure that a similar document being prepared as part of the new financial perspective for 2023-2027 will include more favourable rules for financial support for larger farms, including agricultural production cooperatives.

This includes

- the abolition of the upper area and economic limits for the granting of aid for modernisation and investment objectives in agricultural holdings and the introduction instead of at least 2-3 area ranges of holdings to which a differentiated amount of aid would be granted.

An alternative solution could be to set the above-mentioned limits in agricultural production cooperatives per family working in agricultural production carried out on a cooperative farm;

- to maintain financial support for all crop and livestock production, without excluding poultry production;

- to make legal persons (including cooperatives) more eligible for financial support for the start-up of non-agricultural activities, including the provision of agricultural services;

- to restore the possibility of benefiting from aid measures by agricultural producer groups, also established with the participation of legal persons (including cooperatives), as a form of organisation of agricultural producers into economic entities which are more competitive on many agricultural markets, which has proved its worth in previous years.

5) In terms of direct payments, the National Union will support the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Poland to maintain the SAPS single area payment scheme in the post-2020 CAP financial perspective and to equalise direct payments between EU Member States, based on the criteria of a single area rate across the EU.

For larger area farms, including agricultural production cooperatives, it is important to amend the provisions on the reduction of the single area payment by 100% of the excess over 150,000 euros. The interpretation of the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013, adopted in 2014, which is unfavourable to these farms, should be modified in such a way that the 5% reduction of the payment takes place while labour and social security costs are deducted from its basis.

6) The National Union will carefully observe and appropriately react to the proposals of the European Green Deal in agriculture, which is a plan for the reconstruction of the European Union's economy aimed at minimising the scale of consumption of natural resources while maintaining international competitiveness. It therefore also contains proposals for measures that will significantly affect the agricultural sector in the EU, including Poland. These include, inter alia, restrictions on the use of plant protection products and mineral fertilisers and stimulating the development of organic farming. Adapting agriculture to the requirements of the European Green Deal, especially the "from farm-to-fork" and "biodiversity" strategies, which are crucial from the perspective of this sector, is a cost-intensive task and entails a number of threats to the competitiveness of agricultural production, and consequently also to farmers' income and the availability of food in Poland. Hence, it is necessary to assess the scale and impact mechanisms of the proposed regulatory changes taking into account the conditions of Polish agriculture.

7) There is an urgent need to clearly define the prospects for the use of Renewable Energy Sources in agriculture and rural areas (biogas plants, solar and wind farms, energy crops).

The statutory regulations on RES adopted a few years ago have not been implemented on a wider scale in practice, and the complicated and piecemeal procedures in the legislation create many problems for agricultural producers and investors.

8) Following the introduction, in April 2016, of restrictions to the Act on the Formation of the Agricultural System on the purchase of agricultural real estate by legal persons engaged in farming (including National Union), it becomes an urgent necessity to amend the provisions of this Act by:

- creating the possibility for cooperatives to purchase agricultural land under the rules applicable to individual farmers running family farms, without the need to obtain permission for this purchase from the General Director of the National Agricultural Support Centre (KOWR);

- abolish the powers of the KOWR to apply the right of first refusal (or purchase) of agricultural real estate (especially land deposits) traded within cooperatives;

- introduction of a statutory definition of a multi-family agricultural holding, which should be understood as a holding run by natural persons in the form of a cooperative agricultural holding under the terms of the Act - Cooperative Law and in which the area of agricultural land per one family performing work connected with agricultural activity is not larger than the standard provided for a family holding run by an individual farmer (currently 300 ha);

- creation of a possibility for members of agricultural production cooperatives to purchase land from KOWR with the intention of contributing it to the cooperative as land deposits on similar terms as farmers running family farms.

- Restore the possibility to carry out the " usucaption" procedure.

9) The National Union community is strongly in favour of maintaining tenancy as the basic form of using land at the disposal of the KOWR. The provisions in this respect should be regulated in a separate comprehensive law on agricultural lease, covering both private lease and lease of land forming part of the Agricultural Property Stock of the Treasury - following the example of solutions applied in many other EU countries.

10) In order to improve the profitability of agricultural production and to improve the efficiency of the activities carried out by agricultural production cooperatives, the National Union will continue its efforts to:

- increase budgetary funds for subsidies to agricultural fuel, seed material and insurance premiums for agricultural crops and livestock;

- extend the definition of agricultural activities exempt from corporate income tax to include, inter alia, poultry production carried out exclusively within an agricultural holding, agricultural services and the leasing of land for agricultural purposes. This issue became particularly important after the Polish Sejm recently passed a law introducing a tax on income obtained by farms carrying out small-scale non-agricultural activities; 

- abolish of the so-called double taxation of cooperative income (once - CIT on the income of a cooperative as a legal person, the second time - PIT - on the income of members from the distribution of general income);

- introduce of further simplifications in keeping accounting and tax records by cooperatives with smaller economic potential.

11) The legal regulations contained in the Act -  Cooperative Law will be of great importance for the institutional basis for the further functioning and development of agricultural production cooperatives. During the regional congresses held before the 6th Congress of Cooperatives, representatives of cooperatives and cooperative unions expressed the unanimous opinion that, in view of the bad experience of recent years, in which partial changes in cooperative legislation were made, mainly for political reasons, the postulates on the need to enact a new Cooperative Law should be approached with caution and the great prudence. This is because there is a danger that this issue will be taken up by political groups (or groups of MPs) that are still unfavourable to cooperatives. This may lead to a situation as in previous years, where the so-called "healers" of cooperatives wanted to marginalise the role of cooperatives and their organisations in the economic life of the country through statutory changes and impose administrative supervision over them.

Any amendment of the rules governing cooperatives and their organisational structures should only take place after wide consultation with the cooperative community, taking into account the needs and expectations of cooperative members, including the specificities of individual cooperative branches.

In doing so, the general principles concerning the recognition that:

- the property of cooperatives is the private property of its members;

- cooperatives and their organisations are self-governing and independent economic entities in which statutory regulations, rather than statutory restrictions imposed from above, are of primary importance;

- the lustration of cooperatives is the basic form of intra-cooperative control, exercised exclusively by the cooperative revision unions and the National Cooperative Council, without interference in its functioning by state administrative bodies.

It is very important that Polish cooperative legislation respects the international cooperative principles recognised by the world and international organisations of which Poland is a member, including the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations.

In the part of the Act - Cooperative Law concerning agricultural production cooperatives, possible changes should concern:

- extension of the definition of National Union to include the multi-family nature of the collective farm run by the cooperative with simultaneous specification of this definition in the amended Act on Formation of the Agricultural System;

- introduction of a statutory definition of a candidate for a member of National Union and specification of his/her rights and obligations as well as rules of remuneration for his/her work;

- introduction of the possibility of adopting, in the statutes of a given cooperative, the so-called plural voting at the General Assembly (depending on the value of held shares and member contributions and land contributions) on specific issues.

12) In order to strengthen the position of Polish agricultural cooperatives on the forum of the European Union, the agricultural production cooperative environment is strongly in favour of continuing efforts towards the accession of the National Review Union of Agricultural Production Cooperatives or the National Cooperative Council to the General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union (COGECA).

13) An important task of the National Union and its affiliated regional revision unions, and - as far as possible - of all cooperatives, should be to undertake information-promotional activities concerning the idea of cooperativeness, the principles of functioning of cooperative entities, knowledge of the current problems of the cooperative movement and the conditions for its further functioning and development.

The notion of cooperatives as an independent, self-governing and democratic organisation, whose main objective is to satisfy the economic and social needs of its members and to act for the development of the environment in which it functions, should be consolidated in the public awareness. For this, however, an appropriate political climate and the support of the government administration and local government bodies are needed.

Therefore - all cooperative entities at their organisational levels should seek the goodwill and support for the cooperative movement (in the Parliament and the Government of the Republic of Poland, in the provincial and marshal offices, in the provincial assemblies and in the bodies of districts, communes and cities).

A concerted effort should also be made to ensure that in the forthcoming local government elections and then in the parliamentary elections, cooperatives increase their activity by, inter alia, putting forward candidates connected with or sympathetic to the cooperative movement.

It should be of great importance for the environment of agricultural production cooperatives to increase the activity of cooperatives and their members in the next elections to the self-governing bodies of the chambers of agriculture. 

14) Poland's functioning within the European Union and the ensuing necessity of constant implementation of many new legal regulations and specific provisions in economic life will require the continuation by the National Union of multidirectional training, advisory and publishing activities for the needs of agricultural production cooperatives.

This activity should focus in particular on:

o explaining the principles and mechanisms of the functioning of the Single Market and the Common Agricultural Policy, as well as the proposed changes envisaged in this respect in the following years;

o disseminating and assisting in the implementation of the requirements in force in the field of agricultural production, particularly those relating to good agricultural condition, animal welfare and environmental protection;

o providing instructions on the procedures for applying for financial assistance from the various structural funds;

o disseminating modern production and commodity marketing technologies and efficient management systems.

Explaining and interpreting the legal provisions on accounting and the tax and insurance system applicable to agricultural production cooperatives will continue to be a constant focus of the National Union's activities.

The implementation of the above-mentioned tasks will be carried out through the organisation of seminars and information and training meetings for the management of cooperatives and the publication of the "Information Bulletin", as well as - the expansion of the content and improvement of the form of the website of the National Union.

15) An important statutory task of the National Union will be the development and improvement of lustration activities. To this end, the Union will strive, inter alia, to:

o ensure that each member cooperative is able to carry out a lustration in accordance with the provisions of the Act -  Cooperative Law;

o increase the number of lustrations carried out in cooperatives not affiliated to the National Union;

o raise the professional qualifications of the lustrators and improve the organisational forms of the lustration activities carried out by these persons; 

o make wider use of the results of the lustration, inter alia in training, instruction and advisory activities in order to improve the functioning of cooperatives and increase the effectiveness of the members and employees employed therein.

16) The National Union will continue and develop its activities in promoting the accomplishments and economic achievements of agricultural production cooperatives, inter alia, by: 

o disseminating the activities of cooperatives in the media and thus shaping positive opinions about agricultural cooperatives in society. Expanding cooperation with cooperative magazines and promoting subscriptions to these magazines by cooperatives will play an important role in this regard;

o inspiring and promoting the participation of cooperatives in fairs, exhibitions and other cooperative events at national and international level;

o developing various forms of cooperative competition, inter alia, by continuing the "Ranking of National Unions", supporting similar initiatives undertaken by regional associations and disseminating the productive and economic achievements of individual cooperatives in the pages of the "Information Bulletin";

o to support the involvement of cooperatives and regional unions in solving the problems of local communities, e.g. by extending cooperation with local self-government bodies at the commune, district and voivodship level, as well as with other agricultural unions and organisations; 

o cooperation with scientific centres dealing with the problems of cooperatives and National Union and participation in scientific conferences and symposia organised by various institutions and organisations.

17) The National Union will continue and develop activities for the integration of the agricultural production cooperative environment and cooperation with other cooperative environments. These will consist, inter alia, in: 

o providing assistance in establishing cooperation between cooperatives and exchanging experiences between them;

o organising regional meetings of the management of National Union and the participation of representatives of the Council and the Management Board of the Union; 

o promoting co-operation of agricultural production co-operatives with co-operatives from other sectors, especially those involved in trade and processing of agricultural products. 

In order to carry out the above tasks, it will be of particular importance to improve and extend the cooperation of the National Union with regional review  unions, inter alia, in the organisation of joint undertakings in the field of training and counselling, information, promotion and other activities. 

18) The cooperation of the National Union with the National Cooperative Council should continue to play an important role in strengthening the cooperative movement and its integration. Representatives of the National Union environment in the General Assembly and the Board of the NCS should not only bring the problems of agricultural production cooperatives to the forum of this supreme organ of cooperative self-government, but also take active measures to develop inter-branch cooperative cooperation and to strengthen the role of cooperatives in the national economy. 

The National Union will actively participate in the implementation of the tasks resulting from the Programme Resolution of the VIII Cooperative Congress and cooperate with other national cooperative unions in this respect.

19) In order to effectively implement the tasks outlined above, the National Union will continue its cooperation with trade unions and socio-professional organisations of farmers and other agricultural producers. An important role should also be played by the participation of representatives of the National Union in the work of bodies and teams established under the Minister of Agriculture

20) The National Union will make further efforts to gain the membership of further agricultural production cooperatives, in particular by: 

o disseminating the achievements and programme of activities of the National Union among non-associated cooperatives;

o organising regional information and consultation meetings with the participation of managements of non-unionised cooperatives;

o inviting representatives of non-unionised cooperatives to participate in training courses and seminars organised by the National Union and to subscribe to the "Information Bulletin";

o direct canvassing by members of the National Union, including in particular members of its statutory bodies.

21) The National Union will continue its efforts to obtain new sources of funding for its activities, above all the statutory share of agricultural tax together with other agricultural organisations.

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