Copa & Cogeca have outlined their views on the EU ombudsman regulation proposal and CAP greening simplification measures discussed by EU Farm Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.
The proposed changes to the income stabilisation tool included in EU rural development policy were made as there has been little take up of it. The EU Commission believes that the changes will make it easier for Member States to use so that aid can be activated when income losses on the farm are 20% instead of 30%. Speaking in a meeting in Luxembourg today with the Slovak Presidency, Copa & Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “It is a positive step as it should help to improve uptake of the scheme and better target support, especially for the dairy and beef sectors”.
“The ombudsman regulation” proposal also includes some changes to the financial instruments to make it easier for farmers to get loans under EU rural Development Policy but Mr Pesonen called for further changes so that there is a better response in times of crisis, especially in the dairy and pork sector. In addition, the proposal includes changes to the definition of active farmer to give Member States more discretion in how they define it. But Mr Pesonen warned that this could lead to significant differences in how rules are applied in member states and less harmonisation of how they are applied.
He went on to support calls made by 18 Ministers today to change the proposals concerning simplification of the greening measures under the CAP, saying that some of the measures being considered by the Commission will not make farmers’ lives simpler. In particular, it is a problem that the Commission is considering banning the use of pesticides for protein crops in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) as this does not amount to simplification. It is also a problem that that they were considering an increase from 6 to 9 months of the period for land lying fallow and were considering an increase to 10 weeks as the minimum common duration for catch crops and green cover.
He also warned of the fragile state of the commodity markets, with producers hit by low market prices and high input costs. The EU grain sector is now in a critical state. France and Ireland were badly affected. Global cereal supply is reaching record levels and global wheat prices are at their lowest level for 10 years. “We consequently believe emergency support should be given to avoid farmers going bankrupt”, he said.