EU set for simpler farm policy rules in 2018

December 14 , 2017

The “more modern” Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will have more support for farmers’ position in the supply chain, incentives for young farmers and simpler risk management tools.

The European Commission (EC) has announced a raft of changes to its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 after the agricultural and rural part of the so-called “Omnibus Regulation” was adopted by the Council of agriculture ministers and the European Parliament.

Among the key improvements included in the Omnibus are:

  • Stronger support for farmers’ position in the food supply chain. The new rules will include value sharing clauses to be negotiated by every product sector, and give farmers the right to ask for a written contract for the first time (unless trading with SMEs);
  • Simpler risk management tools to help farmers, including a sector-specific income stabilisation tool and improvements to insurance schemes that will allow compensation of up to 70% for farmers whose production or income is cut by at least 20%;
  • Clearer rules governing intervention in markets, allowing the Commission to act rapidly to address market failures without having to use public intervention or private storage measures;
  • Greater flexibility for Member States to support specific sectors of economic, social or environmental importance through voluntary coupled support, even when these sectors are not in crisis;
  • Clearer rules on support for farmers, notably through more flexibility on the definition of active farmers and stronger incentives for young farmers, with an increase in additional payments from 25% to 50% and guaranteeing all young farmers the right to the full five-year allowance for these payments, regardless of when they apply for them within their first five years of their setting-up;
  • Improved environmental measures including simpler rules on crop diversification and the addition of three new types of ecological focus area focused on nitrogen-fixing crops, giving farmers and national authorities more options to suit their particular circumstances.

In a release, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan welcomed the developments, claiming they paved the way for a “series of significant simplification measures” to make the lives of farmers and other CAP beneficiaries easier.

“These include the important areas of simplification of the rules for financial instruments, the improvement of risk management tools and greater flexibility for the active farmer provision,” Hogan said.

“I want to acknowledge the role and hard work of the EP rapporteurs and the Estonian Presidency during the trilogue process for ensuring that these simplification measures will be available to farmers from 1 January 2018. 

“The adoption last month of the Commission’s Communication on the CAP is further evidence of our commitment to continue with the agenda of bringing greater and much-needed simplification to our farmers and all stakeholders.”

In a release earlier this week, European farmer group Copa and Cogeca described the new CAP scheme as ambitious and “as such requires the appropriate levels of funding”.

Speaking on behalf of European farmers and cooperatives, Cogeca President Thomas Magnusson said it was good the plan kept both pillars of the CAP and maintained direct payments to farmers.

“It will be important to ensure that simplification delivers results for farmers,” he explained.

“The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should remain a common policy without any further re-nationalisation and the budget ceiling should be increased to above 1% of the Gross National Income.

“This will allow farmers and their cooperatives to adequately exploit the future opportunities open to European agriculture.”

Magnusson went on to welcome news that there will be a strong rural development pillar ensuring the vitality of rural areas.

He stressed that access to broadband will be vital for farmers and cooperatives to make use of new technologies like smart farming and encourage the next generation of farmers to stay on the land.

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