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Thursday, 24 January 2013

EP Agricultural Comitee first day of vote on CAP

The European Parliament’s agricultural committee adopted in its first day of plenary Wednesday (23 January) a dozens of amendments to the EU’s future farm policy, but approval remains far from certain when the full Parliament will vote on CAP reform in March. The committee will continue its voting today, 24 January.
The two- days agricultural committee votes on the two main financial pillars of the CAP, direct payments to farmers and rural development, as well as proposals to phase out price supports for sugar and planting right for wine producers.
Among the most important amendments adopted:
- The committee included a list of entities, such as airports and sports clubs, which should be automatically excluded from EU funding unless they prove that farming contributes a substantial share of their income.
- The committee has voted for a stronger redistribution of aid among member states, and no member state's farmers should receive less than 65% of the EU average The rate of payments to farmers within each member state could also be made equal by 2019.
- MEPs endorsed Commission proposals to cap direct payments to any one farm at €300,000.
- The three key measures of environment protection rules - crop diversification, maintaining permanent pasture and permanent grassland and creating "ecologically  focused areas" remain but with certain exceptions, e.g. to reflect the size of the farm. Farms with under 10 ha of arable land should be exempt and the rules should be relaxed for holdings of 10 - 30 ha.
However, the stakes are seen to be high for the European Parliament, which for the first time has legislative powers over policies that will govern agriculture. As no agreement has been yet reached on the future budget of the EU, MEPs are under pressure to approve a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) without knowing how much they have to spend and with just 11 months to go before implementation (planned for 2014).
In the same time, the environment panel met to discuss the CAP with Ireland’s farm minister, as the two panels have differed sharply over policies, including the environment committee’s support for tougher ‘greening’ requirements for farmers and for requiring the EU to monitor the impact of its farming subsidies have on food production in developing countries. Also a controversy exists also over the committee’s vote for double payment for farmers- receiving payments for agri-environmental schemes, and the direct payments (opposed by the Commission).
The EU Council, representing the 27 member states, is due to finalise an overall budget for 2014-2020 at a 7-8 February summit in Brussels. The next budget is likely to deliver cuts to most EU programmes, including what has traditionally been its largest, the CAP.


Source: Euractiv, EurpeanVoice, European Parliament