"Habemus consilium rusticarum"

White smoke eventually emerged from the Brussels CAP negotiations on Tuesday evening last 24 September to indicate that the final elements of the CAP regulations for the period 2014-2020 had been agreed between the Council, Parliament and Commission. The Ciolos reform has been concluded. The outstanding elements concerned those issues related to the CAP which were left in ‘square brackets’ in the June political agreement because they had been included in the European Council’s MFF conclusions in February this year.
For the Parliament it was a matter of principle that issues which would be addressed in the CAP regulations should be negotiated through the co-decision procedure and not decided unilaterally by the Council, even the European Council.

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Distributing farm payments in Ireland

The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s consultation on how to implement the new Direct Payments Regulation in Ireland closed last Friday. Ireland is an interesting case study in moving from the historic payment model because of its predominantly grassland-based agriculture and the high dependence of Irish farm incomes on direct payments (the single farm payment alone contributes 50% of Irish farm income). There are significant differences across farms in both the value of payment entitlements per hectare as well as in stocking densities per hectare (the best measure of the intensity of land use in grassland farming), which has given rise to a lively debate on how direct payments should be distributed in future.

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OECD Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation Report 2013

Today the OECD published its annual update of trends in producer and consumer support to farmers (measured as the Producer Support Estimate, PSE and the Consumer Support Estimate, CSE, respectively). It shows overall support levels rising in 2012, following the historical low recorded in 2011.
For the OECD countries the share of support in farm receipts is 19%, up from 18% the previous year. There are sharp divergences behind these figures with the highest support countries recording increases (Japan 56%, Korea 54%, Norway 63% and Switzerland 57%) while relatively low support countries fell further (Israel 11%, Mexico 12%, United States 7%).

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The end of export subsidies?

Well, not quite. But with the publication of the final texts of the CAP political agreement last week we can now scrutinise the detail and fine print. Changes to the language on export subsidies in the single Common Market Organisation regulation go further than before in limiting the future use of export subsidies, without quite taking the final step of eliminating them altogether.
I previously discussed the EU’s use of export subsidies in this post last year. I highlighted both the sharp fall in the use of export subsidies by the EU, the high cost to taxpayers and citizens of using this instrument to support market prices and farm incomes and the growing political support for their abolition.

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EU budget negotiations and farmers’ 2013 single farm payment

The value of SFP payment entitlements (and the SAPS payment in the new member states) that farmers will receive later this year will be based on current eligibility rules (as set out in Council Regulation (EC) 73/2009 agreed following the CAP Health Check) but on the budgetary amounts set aside for 2014 under the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) regulation for the coming period 2014-2020. This is because the 2013 direct payments are paid out of the 2014 EU budget which runs from 1 October this year.
This means that, even without the new CAP regulations agreed in June 2013 coming into force (which are now delayed to 1 January 2015), what farmers will receive in direct payments in 2013 will differ from what they were paid in 2012 for two main reasons:
• The overall budget for direct payments agreed for 2014, taking into account the additional demands on this budget arising from the phasing in direct payments in the new member states plus the provision for the new crisis reserve, is lower than before.

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