European Parliament’s View of the Health Check Holds Little Promise for the Environment

The European Parliament is seeking an outcome to the CAP Health Check that does not compromise the competitiveness of EU farming or diminish the value of farm subsidy receipts. This is the vision presented in a working document drafted by German MEP Lutz Goepel of the Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. The paper acknowledges the need for some evolution of the CAP, but presents a sometimes inconsistent set of suggestions, a number of which are likely to run counter to arguments in favour of promoting a more environmentally sustainable CAP. The paper is examined in further detail below. … Read the rest

Cross compliance: at crossed purposes?

The objectives of the present incarnation of the CAP are the subject of intense debate in policy circles. Cross compliance is seen by some as a way to justify the Single Payment Scheme, by aligning the receipt of largely untargeted subsidy payments to the delivery of public goods. To some extent this is true. Farmers need to meet a set of fairly basic standards centred on pre-existing EU environment, food safety and animal welfare legislation (called Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) in CAP jargon). They must also respect a set of baseline soil and habitat maintenance standards (collectively referred to as standards for Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC)).… Read the rest

Set-aside: ensuring the environmental benefits

Ariel Brunner in a recent post lamented the fact that the EU has proposed to set the rate of compulsory set-aside to 0% for the 2008 harvest without putting in place alternative measures to secure the environmental benefits which set-aside land provides. The reason why the decision only concerns autumn 2007 and spring 2008 sowings is that a decision to eliminate set-aside can only be done in the context of a global review of arable crops policy. This will be undertaken as part of the CAP Health Check, when the Commission has promised an analysis on how and by which means we can address the positive environmental side effects of set aside.… Read the rest

Commission announces relaxation of cross compliance system

The Agriculture Commission has today announced a series of changes to the cross compliance system under which European farm subsidy payments are made conditional on farmers meeting basic rules relating to farm management and environmental conservation. The thrust of the changes is to streamline the system, make it less onerous for farmers and for the government authorities charged with inspecting farms and enforcing penalties where rules have been broken.… Read the rest

Cross compliance: tough new standards or money for nothing?

During last week’s furore over trading in CAP subsidy entitlements, the question of what farmers must do in return for their subsidy was raised. In a speech on 6 March 2007 in India, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said that the CAP’s new Single Farm Payment (SFP) is conditional on farmers observing “tough standards of environmental care, animal welfare and public health”. But a new report from the Institute for European Environment Policy provides some evidence that the conditionality of subsidy payments is something of a mirage. Only in a very small number of cases do the requirements actually exceed what was already required by member states’ pre-existing laws on environmental pollution and animal welfare.… Read the rest

Investors buying up farm subsidies

The past week has seen a series of revelations in the media about the way that decoupled farm subsidies are operating in Scotland. It has become evident that farm subsidy entitlements are being sold by farmers and that investors – who may never have set foot on a farm – are buying up entitlements to claim the new Single Farm Payment, which accounts for the bulk of the European Union’s £48.5 billion Common Agricultural Policy.… Read the rest