The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has established its position on the CAP post 2020, voting through a number of proposed reforms to the three CAP regulations, between the 1-8 April.
Chief among the proposals supported by Agriculture MEPs is the introduction of a “Production Curbing System” within the new rules for the Common Market Organisation (CMO). This supply management tool, which would apply to all economic sectors, aims to replicate the voluntary production reduction scheme enabled for dairy farmers during the 2015-2016 crisis. However, while that scheme was financed through exceptional funding, this permanent tool would be funded through CMO resources. Moreover, it would additionally impose a levy on producers who increase their production, should the market situation not improve within a certain amount of time.
ICOS has raised its strong opposition to this proposal among MEPs, which would be hugely damaging to Irish dairy farmers and co-operatives and would serve to undermine the significant on-farm and processing investments made by the industry in recent years. We will be calling for its removal from the Parliament position going forward and for its rejection by the Council within the inter-institutional discussions.
Other proposals include:
- A Single EU observatory: MEPs call for a single agricultural markets observatory to be established to enhance market transparency
- CAP Delivery Model: The committee is seeking to delay the introduction of the new CAP delivery model, based on national strategic plans, by one year, until 2022 to take account of inter-institutional discussions which are delayed and national planning and procedures.
- Direct Payments: At least 60% of Member States’ national envelopes should be allocated to the direct payments and the complementary redistributive payment (set at a minimum of 5%). MEPs call for payments to be capped at €100,000 (after the deduction of support for eco-schemes, young farmer payment and agriculture-related salaries). In additional the Committee are calling for full harmonisation of aid per hectare (i.e. internal convergence) by 2027.
- Young Farmers: At least 2% of the national envelope (Pillar 1) should be dedicated to young farmer top-up payments – for a period of 7 years (instead of 5 years). The allowance for new installations under Rural Development Programmes (Pillar 2) is increased from €70 000 to €100 000 (as under the Commission proposal).
- Active Farmers: MEPs strengthened the definition of an active farmer linking it with agricultural activity and the idea of conserving the family farming model. They agreed that the term should be defined by Member States in a way to ensure that no support is granted to those whose agricultural activity forms only an insignificant part of their overall economic activities. Companies, but not groups of farmers, carrying out large-scale processing of agricultural produce could be excluded.
- Co-operatives: Member States may allocate up to 3% of direct aid to support Producer Organisations (POs)including cooperatives in sectors that are not currently covered by specific sectoral programmes.
- Environmental Measures: The Committee softened the original Commission proposal on mandatory environmental rules (known as conditionality), reducing the requirements to 9 different standards for Good Agricultural & Environmental Conditions (GAECs) (down from the Commission’s proposed 10), removing the requirements for a mandatory nutrient management tool as well as the obligation to reserve a minimum percentage of the holdings to non-productive elements or areas.
- Risk Management: A minimum of 30% of Rural Development funding (Pillar 2) should be channelled towards investment and risk management tools.
Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive
29 Jan 2021