Copa-Cogeca: EU organic review’s a bureaucratic monster

Copa-Cogeca welcomed today EU Farm Ministers talks to simplify complicated Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rules, warning urgent action is vital to cut red tape and ease the draconian penalties imposed on farmers and their cooperatives.

In a high level meeting with the Latvian Presidency, Copa President Albert Jan Maat said “We are very anxious to see concrete initiatives introduced to simplify farmers work as soon as possible. Without this, innovation and competitiveness is jeopardised. It is unacceptable to take up to 30% of farmers greening payments in 2017 when the rules are still unclear and the errors relate to delays in advice made by the local authorities. Going beyond the 30% payment cut is also unacceptable in 2018″.

He also stressed that simplification must not result in fundamental changes to the basic act and rules under the new CAP which the EU agreed until 2020, to give farmers some stability and enable them to plan ahead.

He went on to call for a level playing field across the EU, warning that he has serious concerns about the way in which the new rules are being implemented in some countries. With only 27 out of 118 EU rural development programmes approved, he urged the EU to accelerate approval of the remaining national rural development programmes.

On review of EU organic legislation, Cogeca President Christian Pees said the EU organic sector is growing fast, but he warned of the high level of red tape surrounding the review, warning it stifles innovation. We need evolution and not revolution so that the 250, 000 organic farmers can continue to earn a living from the sector. We welcome some of the changes made by the Italian and Latvian presidency to the EU Commission plans, especially the maintenance of mixed farmers in the sector as a ban would deter farmers from converting to organic farming. The requirement to have yearly controls should be maintained as it helps to maintain a regular link between certification bodies and operators, considering the rapid changes to regulation and the complexity of the regulatory framework. This is also important to ensure consumer confidence in the EU organic farming logo.In addition, conditions to establish a specific European declassification level for organic products has not been met.

Wrapping up, Mr Maat supported the Baltic states and Finland in their calls for urgent aid for the dairy sector, warning it’s a difficult market situation hit hard by the Russian crisis.

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