Omnibus: Go-ahead for simpler and fairer post-2018 farming policy
- simpler and more flexible EU’s farming policy rules
- stronger farmers in the food supply chain
- better tools to deal with production and market risks
Rules to simplify the EU’s farming policy, boost farmers’ bargaining power and better equip them to face risks were endorsed by the Agriculture Committee on Wednesday.
The update of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rules, provisionally agreed by the Parliament’s and Council’s negotiators on 12 October and endorsed by the Council’s Special Committee on Agriculture on 15 November, was given a green light from the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee by 39 votes in favour to 5 against.
Head of Agriculture Committee negotiators Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT), rapporteur and chief negotiator Albert Dess (EPP, DE) and lead negotiator on Common Market Organisation rules Michel Dantin (EPP, FR) will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 10:00 on the results of the committee vote and next steps. You can watch it live and re-watch it later here.
Strengthening farmers in a fairer supply chain
To boost farmers’ bargaining position in the food supply chain and ensure thus its fair functioning, the approved text allows all recognised farmers’ organisations to plan production and negotiate delivery contracts on behalf of its members without falling foul of the EU’s competition rules. Collective negotiations have so far been allowed only for milk, olive oil, beef, cereals and arable crops producers.
Better tools to face market and production risks
Due to series of agricultural crises in recent years MEPs insisted that farmers must be given better tools to protect themselves from both market volatility and unforeseen production risks such as adverse weather conditions, plants pests or animal diseases.
To this end new law will:
- introduce a sector specific Income Stabilisation Tool (IST) so that losses incurred by farmers could be calculated for the type of production that was hit and they could be compensated even if their other productions did not suffer,
- update current rules for crop, animal and plant insurance, mutual funds and for the IST to increase compensations and make them accessible to more struggling farmers. For insurance and sectorial IST, compensation of up to 70% (up from 65%) should be available for those who lost more than 20% (down from 30%) of their annual production (for insurance) or income (for the sectorial IST). For mutual funds and the general IST the maximum level of compensation will be also increased from 65% to 70%, but it will continue to be available to those who lost more than 30% of their annual production or income,
- untie the Commission’s hands in times of crises by allowing it to move quickly with exceptional actions without the need to activate first the public intervention and private storage measures, and
- allow member states to grant coupled support to their ailing sectors, which are particularly important for economic, social and environmental reasons, regardless of whether or not they experienced a drop in their outputs. Coupled support is currently limited to sectors struggling with maintaining previous levels of production.
Active and young farmers: More flexibility introduced
The agreed text gives member states more flexibility to define an active farmer, i.e. a person eligible for EU farm subsidies. EU funding would continue to be reserved for those who carry out the minimum farming activities. But as of 2018 national governments could relax existing requirements to make blacklisted entities, i.e. businesses by default not recognised as active farmers, eligible for EU subsidies, or even do away with the blacklist completely.
MEPs ensured that member states would be allowed to increase young farmers’ top-ups from 25% to 50% of the basic payment entitlement, but within the same range of first hectares (25 - 90). Young farmers could now benefit from the top-up for full five years regardless of when, during this period, they apply for it.
Background and next steps
The CAP-related articles of the so-called Omnibus regulation were split from the non-agricultural part of the draft law on EU spending by the 16 November decision of Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (EP President and leaders of political groups in the House) to ensure speedy entry-into-force of new EU’s farming policy rules.
The agreed text now needs to be confirmed by the Parliament as a whole, probably during its 11 - 14 December plenary session in Strasbourg, and the Council. It should enter into force as of beginning 2018.
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
In the chair: Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT)
Procedure: Ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision), 1st reading agreement
Type of the document: Regulation
Disclaimer: this is an informal message intended to help journalists covering the work of the European Parliament. It is neither an official press release nor a comprehensive record of proceedings.