Common Agricultural Policy Update
Beth Metson – Farm Environment Consultant
The Common Agricultural Policy affects 45% of European land, it makes up 40% of EU budget and it goes beyond agriculture to industries such as forestry.
The CAP reform is not likely to be complete until 2015, delayed from 2014. Climate change, food security and sustainable use of natural resources have all encouraged the need for a reform of this magnitude.
The CAP will become more outcome focused, it will aim to help achieve policy and legislative targets more than it ever has previously. The objectives will be driven by directives that focus on water, soil, biodiversity, climate change and historical landscape. Agriculture is considered to have a big role to play in achieving wider policy targets.
Pillar 1 – EU want more bang for their buck
Pillar 1 and 2 are funding pots. Pillar 1 sees the wider audience, Cross Compliance sits in here, it is solely EU funded and therefore notoriously less flexible. Pillar 2 is more flexible, it is made up of member state funds too, current agri-environment scheme payments and RDPE funding originate here.
It is widely accepted Cross Compliance has not been as successful as hoped. Therefore compulsory greening is being considered. These will potentially have direct payment implications. There is no definitive figure yet in terms of these implications but it is likely to be in the region of 30% of the direct payment paid to growers. The question is will growers will be able to opt out of these compulsory options and therefore forego this 30% of their payment? For what it is worth at current payments this is valued at ~£70/ha.
Pillar 2 – Less money but ambitious environmental aims
Pillar 2 is likely to see a larger reduction in budget. This highlights the need to further develop successful partnerships already existent in the industry. This will help achieve ambitious environmental outcomes around policy targets and landscape scale coordination. One example growers will be most familiar with is the water catchment scale approach where we have seen water companies increasingly involved with government organisations to control agricultural diffuse water pollution. There is recognition these relationships need to be further exploited and formed to efficiently and effectively achieve outcomes.
There is an encouragement for large scale digitalisation of CAP related applications, of which the implications are being considered.
Advice and training for land managers is seen as pivotal to achieving environmental outcomes desired from the CAP. It is recognised growers need to know why they are undertaking options in agri-environment schemes in order to manage them correctly and achieve their aims. Current agri-environment schemes are too complex, prescribed and desired outcomes are not spelt out for all to understand, this is likely to change.
Agri-Environment Schemes and the gap – Pillar 2
New Agri-Environment (AE) schemes are being designed now, taking into consideration policy objectives and lessons learnt from current and old schemes. Capital works options are likely to feature and be available on a wider scale, subject to review of these options. New AE schemes aim to be launched in 2015 ready to begin January 2016, from which point there will be a single annual start date.
There is a concern with regard to the gap between December 2013, when the last of the AE agreements can begin and January 2016, when new agreements can be implemented. This gap is not good for the environment or farmers. It will affect those AE agreements that are coming to an end during 2014/15. In terms of ELS, there are 2219 (185,000 ha) agreements expiring in 2014 and 12,000 (1.38m ha) in 2015.
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