Yesterday the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Phil Hogan, released a White Paper outlining plans ahead of CAP reform in 2020.
Luke Ming Flanagan MEP has weighed in on the situation saying there are no new concepts listed in the paper. He referred to the documents presented as “aspirational” but also said they were “lacking in detail”.
Ming pointed out to Hogan that many of the aspirations listed, could have been achieved under the old CAP if the will was there. Flanagan also listed issues under the old CAP, the underpinning of the family farm, greater convergence of payments, addressing environmental challenges. He feels these issues could have been dealt with, if member states were not exploiting the flexibilities of the old CAP “to pander to vested interests”.
“What’s to prevent those Member States continuing these practices, given that the new proposal is to give them even greater autonomy?” asked Mr Flanagan
“After 2020, will some farmers continue to be on €700/hectare while others are on €160/hectare, as is happening at the moment?” he questioned.
The Midlands/North-West MEP also questioned the wisdom of the apparent watering down of ‘greening’, given that in the broad-ranging consultation process, environmental concerns had figured prominently.
“Look, it’s an important document, but this is just the starting point. What it looks like as a finished product is what’s most important. We have a big couple of years ahead of us in the AGRI committee, especially from an Irish perspective. The current imbalance in the payment system in some Member States, and we’re one of those Member States, has to be finally addressed. “ he said.
“A simple means to do this would be to take a bottom-up approach - apply the payments on a front-loaded basis, with per-hectare payments reduced as land holding increased.” he added.
Flanagan MEP did say he was encouraged by some of Commissioner Hogan’s responses to questions and said it is encouraging that part-time farmers will be considered as “active farmers.
“I was encouraged by some of what Commissioner Hogan said in response to questions - including my own - on this issue, encouraged also by what he said about the definition of active farmers, where he was adamant that this would include part-time farmers. As I said, however, there is much work to be done to really improve the current CAP.” he said.