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Published September 30, 2013, 09:25 AM

EU policymakers agree on new CAP

European Union policymakers on Sept. 24 reached final agreement on a new version of the Common Agricultural Policy that will cut direct payments to the largest farmers and provide more money for rural development programs.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek

European Union policymakers on Sept. 24 reached final agreement on a new version of the Common Agricultural Policy that will cut direct payments to the largest farmers and provide more money for rural development programs.

The new version of the CAP, which was finalized by negotiators for the European Commission, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, must still be formally adopted by the parliament in November and the council in December, but is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1. The latest CAP reform is the first in which the European Parliament has played a powerful role, according to Paolo De Castro, a parliamentarian from Italy who chairs the European Parliament Agriculture Committee.

“We proved that Parliament could make the reform better and more democratic, whilst working swiftly enough to ensure that farmers will benefit on time from the new CAP,” De Castro said. EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș said he was “delighted that we have now been able to finalize the reform as a whole.”

Copa, the largest farm group in Europe, and Cogeca, the European organization of farm cooperatives, both welcomed the agreement.

“The overall reform package is a significant improvement on what was originally proposed, being more realistic and with more practical solutions for farmers on several points,” said Copa President Albert Jan Maat. “It shows that the EU co-decision making process with European Parliament works.”

Cogeca President Christian Pees said that for the first time agri-cooperatives were given proper recognition in the CAP.

“This will reinforce farmers’ position in the food chain and enable farmers to get a better return from the market,” Pees said. “We will now get on tackling unfair and abusive practices in the food chain to ensure that there is a more balanced food chain for farmers and cooperatives.” Under the new CAP, farmers who get basic or single area payments above 150,000 euros will see them reduced by 5 percent and that money will be transferred to that member state’s rural development account.

Member states will also have the option of transferring funds between pillars, according to the Farmers Guardian.

Member states can transfer up to 15 percent of their direct payments to rural development and also transfer up to 15 percent of rural development money to direct payments or up to 25 percent for those member states that get less than 90 percent of the EU average for direct payments.

This reduction does not need to apply to member states that apply the “redistributive payment” under which at least 5 percent of their national envelope is held back for redistribution on the first hectares of all farms. The maximum EU contribution for rural development programs will be up to 85 percent in less developed regions, the outermost regions and the smaller Aegean islands, 75 percent in transition regions, 63 percent in other transition regions and 53 percent in other regions for most payments.

But the contribution can be higher for the measures supporting knowledge transfer, cooperation, the establishment of producer groups and organizations and young farmer installation grants and for spending related to the environment and climate change under various measures, according to European Union news releases.

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