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MAY 2018
Farmer to Farmer
the thousand farmers in attendance. In addition, Prof
Hennessy spoke about degressivity, essentially channelling
more of the budget to active farmers as well a smaller-scale
farm units. Putting a cap on direct payment levels is also
likely to be prioritised under CAP 2020, she added.
What is now generally accepted is that payments for
the delivery of `public goods', such as undertaking
environmental improvements at farm level, is going to be
a central feature of all payments in the years ahead. Prof
Hennessy put it plainly: "In order to qualify for payments,
farmers will have to make an increasing contribution to
safeguarding the environment and assisting in climate
change mitigation measures."
Keep it simple
Commissioner Hogan made much of the `simplification
programme' that he has introduced during his tenure
as Commissioner. While the changes are clearly
worthwhile, farmers generally are still critical of the
ongoing complexities of CAP as it affects them on their
farms, despite the introduction of `yellow cards' and the
elimination of penalties for minor errors in form filling and
land management.
The Commissioner outlined his plans for the next CAP: "I
am proposing a new way of delivering the CAP, to make it
less complex for farmers. There will be a move away from
a compliance, rules-based approach to a performance and
results-based approach. We are giving every Member State
the opportunity, in collaboration with farmers, to draw up
a CAP plan. This will allow farmers to plan for a seven-year
period where they will have an influence, for the first time,
in building a tailor-made solution to meet the objectives
laid down by the European Commission. Each Member
State will submit a plan to cover their ambitions under
Pillar I and Pillar II, with detailed outlines of how they will
address specific issues, not just climate and environment,
but also food security, nutrient management, precision
farming, and the improved use of new technologies, in
addition to plans aimed at encouraging young farmers
to enter the industry. The management of pesticides,
antibiotics and other critical issues must all be dealt with.
Commission approval and monitoring of implementation
of these plans will ensure that there is a level playing
field across all EU states. The new delivery model will
ensure that 100 per cent of direct payments will have
conditionality attached in terms of environmental reform.
Some of that is already happening on farms through cross-
compliance. This will be a feature of policy in the future. It
will allow Member States to have a mixture of mandatory
and voluntary measures for payments under Pillar I and
Pillar II to meet environmental objectives. The plan is to
have national controls in place, thus reducing the EU's day-
to-day role in compliance."
The Brexit fall-out
Commissioner Hogan outlined the monetary implications
of Brexit: "After Britain leaves there will be a black hole of
12bn in the EU finances. There are increasing calls on EU
funds, including migration, defence and security issues. In
many people's view, the CAP budget is an obvious target
to secure funding for these initiatives. My strategy is to
persuade others that farmers can do more to deliver on
many of the objectives being pursued by the EU. In that
way, agriculture makes itself more indispensable in areas
like energy efficiency, climate change and job creation in
rural regions. There are, however, up to six Member States,
including the Danes, Dutch, Austrians and Swedes, that
do not agree with increasing the EU budget. Without their
consent, there can be no increase in finances. In fact, their
aspiration is to downsize the CAP and cohesion budgets
and move towards a `smaller Europe'. On the other side,
French president Emmanuel Macron is in favour of greater
integration and higher levels of spending to achieve that.
Without unanimity, there will be no decision to increase
the budget. At the extreme end of the spectrum, we have
those who would argue for the abolition of direct payments
entirely. Food production is no longer seen as a priority
or an area in need of financial support. The bottom line
for me is that farmers' incomes must continue to be
supported. EU agriculture exports 137bn of goods and
accounts for 44 million jobs in the EU economy."
European Commissioner
for Agriculture and Rural
Development, Phil Hogan.
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