There are many problems with the Common Agriculture Policy, as we outlined in the article ‘EU Common Agricultural Policy: How it works’. Discussions on CAP reform are currently taking place, having begun in 2019. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the reforms will now be delayed until 2022.
Some of the main proposals for CAP post-2020 include the following:
Ceiling on Payments
In order to achieve a fairer distribution of supports, it is proposed that payments to farmers of between €60,000 and €100,000 should be gradually reduced. A ceiling of €100,000 per farm is also proposed, although it may be possible to offset labour costs against this.
More power to member states
Up to now, CAP strategic plans for each member state were negotiated at EU level. It is now proposed that CAP strategic plans will be decided by individual member states. The Agriculture Ministers of each member state will be accountable for these, and will have flexibility to design policies to achieve common EU objectives.
The new CAP will have an increased focus on tackling climate change, protecting the environment and maintaining landscapes and biodiversity. A minimum of 30% of Pillar 2 rural development funding will be spent on climate and environment related measures. 40% of the CAP’s overall budget is expected to contribute to climate action.
Former EU Commissioner Phil Hogan said that the new European Green Deal is a big improvement for farmers and the environment, providing more opportunities to pay farmers who are willing to produce more in terms of public goods (ie. ecosystems services). Participation in Eco-schemes could have a significant effect on an individual’s overall payment amount. If this is the case, the provision of ecosystem services could become a source of income for farmers.
‘Genuine farmers’ will need to be defined in a way that ensures that no payments are given to those whose agricultural activity forms only an insignificant part of their overall economic activities or whose principal business activity is not agricultural. The definition of ‘genuine/active farmer’ will need to be decided at member state level. Companies carrying out large scale processing of agricultural produce could be excluded from payments.
Farm to Fork 2030 Strategy:
In addition to the new CAP proposals, the Farm to Fork 2030 Strategy was published in May, 2020. The main points of the strategy are as follows:
The excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobials in animal and human healthcare is linked to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), and leads to an estimated 33,000 human deaths in the EU every year, as well as incurring considerable healthcare costs. The EU Commission wants to take action to reduce overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and fish by 50% by 2030.
The Commission aims to have 25% of total EU farmland under organic farming by 2030.
The Commission wants to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50%, and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50%, by 2030.
It is estimated that over 950,000 deaths were attributable to unhealthy diets (one out of five) in the EU in 2017. A healthy and plant based diet reduces the risk of life threatening diseases and the environmental impact of our food system.
The Farm to Fork strategy states: “In the EU, average intakes of energy, red meat, sugars, salt and fats continue to exceed recommendations. Consumption of whole-grain cereals, fruit and vegetables, legumes and nuts is insufficient. Reversing the rise in overweight and obesity rates across the EU by 2030 is critical. Moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce not only risks of life-threatening diseases, but also the environmental impact of the food system.”
Food labelling to empower consumers to choose healthy and sustainable diets
The Commission will propose mandatory nutrition labelling and develop a sustainable food labelling framework that covers the nutritional, climate, environmental and social aspects of food products.
Farming practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere should be rewarded, either via the common agricultural policy (CAP) or other public or private initiatives.
Future of the common agricultural policy – European Commission
From Farm to Fork – European Commission
CAP Post-2020 Proposals – Irish Department of Agriculture
An overview of the CAP in Ireland – Oireachtas
CAP Reform – Professor Alan Matthew’s blog