What does the European Commission propose to farmers? There is a document

Luc Williams

Simplifying some requirements…

Firstly, the Commission proposes to simplify some of the requirements that EU farmers must comply with. A set of basic standards – known as GAEC (principles of good agricultural and environmental condition) – that all farmers must meet to receive support under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have proven difficult to implement in certain circumstances, the EC admitted.

“The Commission has already taken action by granting a partial exemption from fallow land regulations, so-called GAEC 8, for 2024. The Commission is now proposing to amend the rules on GAEC 1, which requires permanent grassland in the EU to be maintained at a constant level from the reference year 2018. Under this requirement, former farmers with large grasslands forced to switch to arable production due to market disruptions in the meat and dairy sectors could be asked to reconvert their arable land to permanent grassland. This obligation could lead to a loss of income by the farmers concerned. The Commission proposes to amend these rules by mid-March to ensure that structural changes caused by market reorientation and reductions in livestock numbers are taken into account. This will ensure that farmers are not penalized in their work and will contribute to reducing the burden as fewer areas would have to be transformed into permanent grassland again,” we read in the EC document.

A review of agricultural practices

In addition, the Commission will review agricultural practices that may be possible during sensitive periods when complying with the minimum soil cover obligation under GAEC 6.

The EC also encourages all interested parties to share their views on the administrative burdens that may be associated with the Nitrates Directive. This can be done via an online public consultation open until March 8, 2024.

What may change regarding control?

Another proposal is to simplify the methodology of some inspections in order to reduce the number of farm visits carried out by national administrations by up to 50%.

“The Commission proposes to improve and clarify the way of assessing the quality of the Area Monitoring System (AMS). It is a system based on the automated analysis of satellite images from the Copernicus program, which aims to reduce the number of inspections on farms, help farmers avoid errors and penalties, and easier reporting. Due to fewer administration visits for management purposes, farmers will have more time to devote to their core work,” the EC noted.

“Force majeure” and “extraordinary circumstances”

A further request is to clarify the application of the concepts of “force majeure” and “extraordinary circumstances”.

“Under this legal concept, farmers who are unable to meet all CAP requirements due to exceptional and unpredictable events beyond their control (such as severe droughts or floods) are not subject to penalties being imposed on them. This clarification will help national administrations to application of this provision and will ensure its uniform application throughout the Union. This will also increase the certainty of obtaining support under the CAP for farmers affected by such events. The Commission will cooperate with Member States to identify possible ways to rationalize controls,” the EC announced.

“It would make everyday work so much easier…”

In its document, the Commission also mentions additional medium-term measures that could reduce the burden on farmers, especially smaller ones, and may consider proposing changes to the CAP basic regulations agreed by the European Parliament and the EU Council in 2021 to this end.

One of the proposals presented may be the exemption of small farms with an area of ​​less than 10 hectares from controls related to compliance with conditionality requirements (GAEC).

“This exemption would significantly simplify the daily work of small farmers, who make up 65% of CAP beneficiaries, while maintaining the environmental ambitions of the CAP, as small farms cover only 9.6% of areas receiving CAP support. Moreover, in the event of a change to the basic regulations In the medium term, GAEC 8 on fallow land, GAEC 7 on crop rotation and GAEC 6 on soil cover could be revised to further reduce the burden on farmers, the Commission proposed.

EC survey for farmers

In addition, in March, the EC will initiate an online survey addressed directly to farmers. The targeted consultation aims to help “identify the main sources of concern and understand the sources of administrative burden and complexity arising from CAP and other EU food and farming rules in the EU, as well as their application at national level.”

From Brussels Artur Ciechanowicz (PAP)


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