Common Agricultural Policy – 2020/2027
Status at 16 January 2018:
The next Common Agricultural Policy (“CAP”) starts in 2020. In terms of EU legislative process, this start date is not very distant. As its predecessor, the CAP 2014-2020 heads towards its conclusion, the EU is in a state of unprecedented flux. Internal disputes – Brexit and nationalistic pressures in Poland and to a lesser extent, Hungary, challenge the structure of the union and its budget. External forces, notably immigration, have led to disagreement on policy by some Member States. Despite the upbeat nature of Jean-Claude Juncker’s “State of the Union” speech, made on 13 September 2017 (europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-3165_en.htm), tough discussions and negotiations lie ahead.
Against this background, it is not surprising that the landmark “Communication” dealing with the future of farming, presented by the EU on 29 November 2017 (ec.europa.eu/agriculture/sites/agriculture/files/future-of-cap/future_of_food_and_farming_communication_en.pdf) signals changes to the CAP – but is vague and focuses on a general leitmotif, which summarizes the CAP 2014-2020 as “solid performance but further work to be done”. It is difficult to predict what lies ahead from this laconic statement. Nevertheless, some indication of what shape the future CAP may take can be found in the body of that document:
- Area Based Payments will be maintained, possibly with the introduction of capping and degression;
- CAP governance will be simplified and Member States will be granted greater autonomy in deciding how to achieve CAP objectives;
- greater emphasis will be placed on environmental and climate objectives.
The document also mentions desirable developments:
- the position of farmers in the food supply chain should be improved;
- the production of healthy food should be encouraged;
- farming risk management should be supported;
- producer associations should be strengthened.
Political comment subsequent to the publication of the Communication seems to indicate that the EU will attempt to maintain the Area-Based Payment budget (ie., Pillar I) at the cost of other budgetary positions (principally Pillar II).
The CAP budget proposals are due to be published in May 2018. The legislative proposals on how the goals outlined in the Communication can be met are due to be published towards the end of the first half of 2018.
How might the proposed changes in the CAP affect deer breeders?
It is still a little early to be precise about will be decided, but it seems likely that the proposed structural changes in the CAP will place greater emphasis on so-called “greening” and other environmental-related objectives, at the same time, derogating to individual Member States, the power to set the detail of the mechanisms which are to achieve those objectives.
If this surmise is correct, the national deer breeder associations have a major role to play in 2018 and 2019 in terms of lobbying their national politicians;
- to ensure that pasture on which deer live qualifies for the Area Based Payment scheme;
- to allow for direct supply of deer meat to local markets under the 853/2004 exemption rules (see ……………*………);
– to provide support for deer farming startups particularly on poor quality land.
For the reasons stated, these points are intended to be ideas, not definitive directions. Nevertheless, it is probable that member States have already started discussions with Brussels, and therefore position statements will be available at national level. The national associations should access these position statements, and take action as appropriate, as it seems that the Member States will have much more flexibility to act than has been the case hitherto.
Here is a complete quote on this matter from the Communication:
The current green architecture of the CAP, that primarily relies on the complementary implementation of three distinct policy instruments – cross compliance, green direct payments and voluntary agri-environmental and climate measures will be replaced and all operations integrated into a more targeted, more ambitious yet flexible approach. The new delivery model will allow Member States to devise a mixture of mandatory and voluntary measures in Pillar I and Pillar II to meet the environmental and climate objectives defined at EU level. Member States will need to define quantified targets which will ensure that the agreed environmental and climate objectives defined at EU level are achieved.
J J Gabrielczyk
Update - CAP 2020 and beyond
A popular British radio comedy programme that ran in the 1960s featured a dour farmer, Arthur Fallowfield, whose response to any question asked of him was a grumpy – „The answer lies in the soil”. Many a true word is spoken in jest. According to the Brussels-based Institute for European Environmental Policy (https://ieep.eu), caring for the planet starts with those who manage and use the EU’s soils. It follows that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as a major motivator of the decisions made by the Communities’ 12 million farmers, is key to ensuring responsible, long term management of Europe’s ecosystem.
There is unprecedented pressure at top level within the EC to expand spending on foreign and defense policies (including immigration control). At the same time, the emphasis on climate mitigation and in particular, the reduction of greenhouse gases, continues. To complicate matters further, these conflicting claims on resources are taking place against a background of uncertainty caused by Brexit (given the latest statements by the British government and the Opposition, it is not at all clear that Brexit will happen).
Last week, EU agriculture ministers began discussions on the best ways of directing subsidy payments to farmers. It seems that all options are being considered, including the capping of payments, degressive payments, redistributive payments and the imposition of minimum thresholds. It is likely that payments will be restricted to active farmers and more payments may be coupled to production. However, general agreement appears to be showing on the issue of subsidiarity, ie., the concept that Member States should be given the flexibility to decide on how to improve the targeting of direct payments.
The trends identifiable so far seems to be:
- an overall reduction in the pool of CAP funding available;
- increased emphasis on greening and maintenance of ecosystems;
- more flexibility afforded to Member States in determining subsidy formats.
Future developments need to be monitored, as definitive decisions will not start to be made till May 2018. However, it may be beneficial already at this stage for national associations of deer breeders to emphasize at Member State ministerial level, the role deer play in maintaining pastures (greening), and the role deer-breeding may fulfill as an alternative to conventional farming (eg. pig farming in areas threatened with African Swine Fever). Both of these roles might be supported by the allocation of CAP funds.