Copa and Cogeca welcomed in Brussels today the fact that the EU Commission will keep the rate for Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) at 5% after releasing a new report.
The Commissions’ evaluation report claims that ecological focus areas (EFAs) can help to improve biodiversity and support eco-systems services. The review is part of the last reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and covers the first two years of its implementation.
Under the rules on EFAs, farmers with arable land above 15 hectares must ensure that at least 5% of this land is an ecological focus area. In 2015, 10% of the land under the obligation was declared as EFA, and data for 2016 shows very similar results. The same report indicates that many farmers chose nitrogen-fixing crops, catch crops and land lying fallow to implement the EFA. Other ways of implementing it include landscape features such as field margins, trees, hedges and buffer strips.
Reacting to the report, Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said ”There is some good news for farmers as the Commission has decided to keep the rate for EFAs at 5% and not increase it to 7% as the amount of land for EFAs is already clearly in excess of 7%. We welcome this move. But we still have some major concerns vis a vis the ban on the use of plant protection products (PPPs) on all potentially productive EFAs. Such a requirement will pose both agronomic and administrative problems which is particularly worrying as we need to encourage farmers and public adminstrations to implement the greening measures under the CAP and increase its acceptability“.