The German Council for Sustainable Development has just published a report highlighting the environmental damage caused by intensive agriculture and calling for a reform of the CAP direct payments system. It proposes a three-fold structure of payments: an environmental basic payment, a series of targeted agri-environmental payments for farmers who accept higher obligations, and a series of payments for high nature-value areas where the continuation of agricultural production is desirable but threatened on economic grounds.
For the environmental basic payment, it suggests that eligibility would be conditional on farmers turning over at least 10% of their area to environmentally-friendly husbandry with a view to maintaining a high level of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape throughout the EU.
The Council explicitly argues against the idea that farmers should be remunerated for fulfilling their statutory obligations with respect to the environment, animal welfare and food safety (cross compliance). It also justifies full EU financing of most of the payments “so long as these are directed to fulfilling EU objectives”, thus apparently advocating that some of the existing co-financed agri-environmental payments in Pillar 2 might be moved to Pillar 1 at least as far as financing modalities are concerned.
The report provides an excellent summary of the state of the debate on the environmental implications of agricultural policy (in German only, at least for the moment).