Fairer, simpler, more flexible EU farm policy: MEPs vote on post-2020 reform

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Warendorf, Germany (Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


The Agriculture Committee approved the second batch of proposals to improve EU farm policy so that it better meets farmers’ and consumers’ expectations after 2020.

The second vote on CAP reform focussed on the new EU rules for direct payments and rural development after 2020. The Agriculture Committee’s amendments to the so-called Strategic plans regulation were approved on Tuesday by 27 votes in favour to 17 against, with one abstention.
On Monday, MEPs approved the CAP reform-related common market organisation rules.
Reducing payments to bigger farms, supporting small, young and women farmers
Member states should cap annual direct payments to farmers at the level of €100.000, but they could allow farmers to deduct 50% of agriculture-related salaries from the total amount before the reduction, MEPs say. They also want to channel at least 5% of national direct payments to small and medium-sized farmers through a special per-ha top-up.
At least 2% of national direct payments budgets should go to young farmers (per-ha top-up for the first seven years). Further support for young farmers should be granted from rural development funding.
MEPs also want member states to use rural development money for specific actions to promote greater inclusion of women in rural economies.
The committee also insisted that all per hectare payments for farmers within EU states or their territories reach at least 75% of their average direct subsidies by 2024 and 100% by 2027.
Strategic plans: New delivery model postponed until 2022
The so-called new delivery model based on national strategic plans to be drafted by member states and approved by the EU Commission, should be delayed by one year until 2022 to allow more time for them to adjust, the Agriculture Committee said..
Extending eco-schemes to protect animal welfare too
MEPs want to dedicate at least 30% of the rural development budget to environmental and climate-related measures and not less than 20% of direct payments to eco-schemes. These voluntary eco-schemes should support not only the environment, but also animal welfare.
More information on boosting advisory services for farmers, definition of active farmer, levelling direct payments and rules for transferring money between pillars are available here.
Quote
“I tried to strike a balance between supporting farmers and protecting the environment. Green architecture has been strengthened, putting a stronger accent on an incentive-based approach. A fairer distribution of the payments has been proposed to support farming SMEs”, said rapporteur Esther Herranz García (EPP, ES).
“The key priority was to safeguard the common rules to protect EU policy and treat farmers across the EU equally and avoid market distortion, while giving more leeway to member states to adapt to their particular domestic situations. The committee has also insisted on maintaining the CAP budget at its current level and I hope the EU governments support our call to maintain a strong CAP”, she added.
Next steps
The text approved by Agriculture Committee MEPs has to be scrutinised by the Parliament as a whole. This can happen only after the 23-26 May European elections. The Conference of Presidents (EP president and leaders of political groups) may decide then to forward the text to the full House. Otherwise, the new Agriculture Committee will have to look into the matter again.

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