Farmer-friendly ideas on greening

COPA-COGECA leaders are currently presenting their new detailed position on greening and green growth at the Congress of European Farmers, organised in Budapest on October 1?3, 2012. The theme of the Congress  is “The Future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): How European Farmers can ensure Food Security Innovatively and Profitably”.

COPA-COGECA is largely against the greening proposals tabled by the Commission last year, saying that they make farmers do a lot more for less money, thereby leading to higher costs, higher food prices and more dependence on imports. They would also increase bureaucracy, of course. Therefore, the farmers’ organisation produced a list of six alternative measures to tackle the problem of greening in a farmer-friendly way: crop diversification (of rotated crops), a certification scheme (food), permanent grasses, replacement of EFAs by uncultivated land, break crops, protein crops.… Read the rest

Old interests in the New Member States

On July 3, a conference was organised on the future of the CAP with the attendance of representatives of six New Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia) in Rzeszów, Poland. Although the original goal of the meeting was to provide solutions to those issues that affect the CEE agriculture after 2014, a Common Statement of Agricultural Ministers was published, which is a useful source to identify NMS interests in the CAP reform debate.

It is the unanimous opinion of the respective New Member States (NMS) that in its current form, the CAP does not serve the original objectives such as simplification, decreasing administrative burdens and convergence.… Read the rest

Negotiations on future CAP have speeded up

Despite the hot summer across Europe, the previous weeks were quite busy in Brussels. On June 18th and 19th 2012, the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee Rapporteurs presented their four draft reports on the reform on the Common Agricultural Policy, while one week on, on June 25th, these draft plans were confronted with national interests (based on the report ‘The CAP Reform: The State of Play in National Parliaments’) at a meeting between Agriculture Committee MEPs and representatives of national parliaments. This process is due to the Parliament’s newly engaged co-decision powers with the Council based on the Lisbon Treaty. Meanwhile, the Danish Presidency has also submitted its report to the Agricultural Council on the progress achieved during the first half of 2012.… Read the rest

What Rio+20 has for the CAP?

20 years have passed since the Earth Summit was organised in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) will also be held in Rio this week and the apparent question comes what has happened in 20 years time. Almost nothing, many argue, as global sustainability is more on the table than ever. Increasing emissions and soil degradation, decreasing biodiversity, shrinking water supply and increasing hunger in many areas are just a few of the challenges the world is facing. These problems are partly due to agricultural policy failing to provide the appropriate answer to these challenges.… Read the rest

Silence please: The second act has just started on greening

Latest evidence shows that negotiations on greening have moved to their second stage. Since 12 October 2011, numerous critiques have arisen regarding the greening proposals criticised as ineffective and overly-restrictive for farmers. As a response to these, the European Commission proposed making some farming practices ‘equivalent’ to the three greening measures last Tuesday. Practically, this means that farmers who are members of certain agri-environment and certified national schemes could be exempt from at least one greening measure. Moreover, the definition of ‘permanent grassland’ are proposed to be widened to include other grazing areas and farms of less than ten hectares could be exempted from certain requirements like diversifying crops.… Read the rest

Who needs the Basic Payment Scheme?

A Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is about to replace the SPS and the SAPS from 2014, therefore payment entitlements obtained under SPS shall expire on 31 December 2013. Under the new BPS, entitlements will be allocated to farmers who apply for it by 15 May 2014 and if he/she has either activated at least one payment entitlement under the SPS in 2011 or claimed support under the SAPS. If lacking such a status, a farmer will need to either make an application to the national reserve or rely on the contract route. Moreover, if a farmer transfers any entitlement before 2014, they have lost the right to make any further transfers.… Read the rest

What is rural development about?

On 1 January 2011, 41% of EU-27 population lived in urban regions, 35% in intermediate regions and only 23% in rural regions, as suggested by the latest release of Eurostat. What is more, the population of urban regions grew by 5.2 per 1000 inhabitants, that of intermediate regions by 2.2‰, while rural regions decreased by 0.8‰ in 2010. These figures are based on a revised urban/rural typology, developed by the European Commission, and are valid for NUTS3 regions. Regions are classified as rural, intermediate or urban based on population density and total population.

However, as expected, individual member states differ significantly regarding the share of their rural population.… Read the rest

On the complexity of defining active farmers

According to the latest proposals of the European Commission, applicants whose CAP direct payments equal less than 5% of their total receipts obtained from non-agricultural income or failing to provide the minimum land cultivation will be excluded from the provision of direct payments.

This might appear a good definition at first sight but the devil, as always, lies in detail. First of all, it is pretty sure that such a proposal would increase bureaucracy, which is totally against the ‘cutting the red-tape’ principle of the Commission. Just imagine how this system would be implemented for each and every farm in Europe.… Read the rest

Who cares about capping?

According to the latest proposals of the European Commission, the amount of support from the basic payment scheme received per farm would be limited to €300,000 per year. Payments higher than €150,000 will be subject to progressive reductions but the costs of salaries in the previous year can be deducted before these reductions apply.

Several critiques appear regarding capping. As recognised by many, it would further weaken the anyway decreasing competitiveness of European large farms by creating a discriminative instrument in the provision of direct payments. It is also contradictory to the economies of scale (and efficiency) as well as would significantly increase bureaucracy, which is totally against the ‘cutting the red-tape’ principle of the Commission.… Read the rest

Evolving alliance for saving the status quo

France has played an extremely active role during the past few weeks to create a strong alliance aiming to save the status quo in the future of the CAP. Bruno Le Maire, the French Farm Minister has proved himself to be successful in persuading his German, Spanish and Italian colleague to help France maintaining the CAP as it is.
Starting on 30 January, Mr. Le Maire met Mario Catania, the Italian Farm Minister to discuss the future of the CAP. Both ministers declared the existence of a ‘strong convergence’ between French and Italian opinions in the debate and asserted that the two countries will safeguard each other’s interests in the main issues like fund distribution or the ‘milk package’ in the future.… Read the rest