’We are sustainable – they are not!’ Farmers’ understandings of sustainable agriculture in Slovenia


  • Duška Kneževič Hočevar


sustainable development, sustainable agriculture, intensive vs. organic farmers, Slovenia


The transition from socialist to market agriculture in Slovenia has brought radical changes in designing agricultural development. Following Slovenia’s proclamation of sovereignty in 1991, agricultural development was oriented towards the high-priced protection of domestic production, while after joining the European Union in 2004, the activities were reoriented towards the adoption of the Common Agricultural Policy reforms, aiming to establish multifunctional farming. Gradually, the national strategy has tied the pursuit of multifunctional farming to the goals of sustainable development, aspiring to the goal of the economically productive, environmentally caring, satisfied and healthy farmer. What the crucial drives behind the development of the observed farms were, and how farmers reflected upon sustainable agriculture in the country and their sustainable farming practices were the research questions of the project Developmental Orientations of Farms in Slovenia. Fieldwork was carried out in 2013 on fourteen intensive and organic farms. Talks were conducted with farm holders and their families about each farm’s history as a necessary background for their reflections on sustainable agriculture in general and their farming practices in particular. Farmers’ talks revealed meaningful ruptures of contrasting imperatives of economic growth, caring for the environment and social justice, addressed in strategic documents of sustainable agriculture, which were also manifested in their practices and visions of what should be done to implement sustainable agriculture in the country.