Will the war in Ukraine redefine the European Union’s agricultural policy for the next seven years? It seems not. However, the European Commission can agree to deviations from the current conditionality of agricultural production. One of these is currently being discussed.
- The European Commission will not deviate from its long-term strategic climate goals.
- Within a few weeks, the European Commission decides to deviate from another conditionality principle in vegetable production for the next season.
- After it approves a derogation for fallow land, it could be the next important decision for the future common agricultural policy, which will change the rules for granting direct payments.
- Janusz Wojciechowski, the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner, continues to encourage EU governments to better use and target livestock subsidies. According to him, welfare subsidies can significantly improve the profitability of livestock farming. Why is it quiet on this issue in our country?
– There is ongoing debate as to what extent this food security emergency requires a review of some of the objectives of the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity strategies? I would like to emphasize that both strategies emphasize that we need to examine and systematically monitor the impact of the implementation of these strategies on food security, and if safety is exposed to risks at any point in time, the Commission must react appropriately and we are deal with this situation – stressed Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Agriculture after the meeting of the agriculture ministers of the Community countries.
A very important deviation – fallow land for production
Of course, the situation is extraordinary, which cannot be hidden. There will be a shortage of grain in many parts of the world if it does not come from Ukraine. For the time being, Russia also occupies the Black Sea basin and does not intend to deviate from its imperialist goals. Seeing this situation, the Member States of the European Union decided in March this year to allow the cultivation of fallow land this season. The takeover of this derogation, which took place in March of this year. was an important step by the European Commission to increase the food security of European consumers. As a result of that decision, the acreage of land was returned to agricultural production in the Community, which is comparable to that of little Belgium. In Poland it is less than 200 thousand. haha.
The European Commission is reacting very flexibly to what is happening in the agricultural markets in connection with Nazi Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. In addition to the above derogation, he agreed to provide farmers with immediate assistance within the national budgets of the Member States. This decision was also taken in March of this year. Polish farmers can count on subsidies for the purchased fertilizers.
Next, on May 20 this year. The European Commission has proposed another unique solution, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), to allow Member States to pay a one-off lump sum to farmers and agri-food companies suffering from significant increases in agricultural production costs. This action allows Member States to decide to use up to 5% of their EAFRD budget for the period 2021-2022 for direct income support for farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises active in the processing, marketing or development of agricultural products. This represents a potential budget of EUR 1.4 billion in the EU. Farmers and small farms can receive a maximum of 15,000 euros and 100,000 euros respectively. Payments must be made no later than October 15, 2023. To take advantage of this exceptional opportunity, Member States will have to submit a revision of their rural development program or programs by introducing a new measure.
They push to move away from shifting
This season, but it is possible that also in the next season, although the European Commission defends itself against what the words of Janusz Wojciechowski may prove, there may still be an anomaly.
– Member States are also in favor of considering the issue of crop rotation and its suspension, in order to allow more production. The Commission is analyzing this, I do not rule out such a possibility, of course no decisions have been taken yet. Crop rotation is a very important agricultural practice and should be continued in the long term. It must be part of sustainable agriculture, also very important for its productivity, said the Commissioner. – There is a strong expectation that crop rotation will be suspended and I think it is worth considering whether the crops we are missing, especially wheat, will be allowed exceptionally, he stressed. – From an agricultural point of view, it is not a good situation if the same crops are used year after year in the same place, but in such an exceptional situation, when production needs to be increased, it should be allowed – he added.
Cessation of wheat crop rotation would be a serious departure from the conditionality planned for agricultural production in the coming years in the future common agricultural policy. Commissioner Wojciechowski spoke in mid-May this year about the ongoing discussion on this issue. during a press conference at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Its results – as reported by the French Presidency – will be known in a few weeks. The European Commission must analyze the introduction of another derogation and indicate how it will affect the amount of wheat production.
What was and should it be?
The rotation standard regulation that has been in force since 2007 stipulates that the same plant species may not be grown on the same plot within the registered plot for more than three years when growing wheat, rye, barley and oats. These regulations have been tightened up since 2023. Currently, farmers have to meet certain requirements in order to collect direct payments. Currently, these requirements are greening and cross-compliance. They function in the first pillar of the CAP and, moreover, agri-environmental measures in the second pillar of this policy are affordable. In the new CAP, this greening and preconditions come together to create a new, reinforced conditionality. In order to receive direct payments, farmers will have to comply with the new rules. Additional payments will also be first pillar eco-schemes, and farmers will be rewarded for their implementation. Agri-environmental measures remain, as in current policy, in the second pillar of agricultural policy.
The rotation obligation applies to farmers who grow crops: wheat, rye, oats and barley, these may be grown on the same area for 3 years, introduced from 2008. Then new requirements were introduced for good agricultural condition. The obligation to rotate crops – as the regulations currently state – will apply from 2023 to companies larger than 10 hectares of arable land, which will have three crops. The new CAP prepares changes to the standards of good agricultural culture (GAEC – abbreviation of Good Agriculture and Environmental Conditions, which means: Good Agriculture Culture, compatible with environmental protection). The implementation of these standards is planned through crop diversification with the obligation to grow at least three different crops on arable land, where the main crop cannot cover more than 65% of the arable land (currently 75%), and the two main crops together cannot cover more than 90% of the arable land (currently 95%).
New policy on time
Janusz Wojciechowski stressed after the last meeting of EU agriculture ministers that the assessment and adoption of the National Strategic Plans for the Common Agricultural Policy went according to plan and that nothing alarming was happening around them. In doing so, it again sent a clear signal that the European Commission is keeping a finger on the pulse and has no intention of changing its fundamental climate and environmental targets. Anyway, a similar signal came from the G7 summit, which can be briefly described: Europe and North America will not deviate from strategic goals that indicate the need to reduce emissions of gases, including carbon dioxide. . At this point, it is worth recalling that the European Commission is working on a plan for carbon sequestration, and the policy to be introduced in this area from next year concerns rewarding farmers for “services” to the environment . They are, among other things, to relieve the burden on breeders, who are referred to by consumers as those who introduce them to the environment, in addition to transport. Apart from the discussion about the harmfulness of animal production, one has to wonder why no one in Poland is having a broad dialogue about this? In the context of strategic plans, Janusz Wojciechowski again recalled the possibility of supporting animal production through animal welfare subsidies.
– Given the difficult situation of the livestock sectors, it would be worth considering whether, for example, animal welfare instruments would be a good form of support for breeders who voluntarily raise animal welfare standards and can therefore receive significant resources to improve their situation – emphasized Janusz Wojciechowski again.
Are his words well understood on the Vistula River? It is doubtful, and it seems that such subsidies will be the only form of support for livestock farming in the European Union in the future. This is really the last signal coming from Brussels at this point.
We invite you to watch the next episode of “Iwan w Dyby”, in which Iwona Dyba, editor-in-chief of farmer.pl and Radosław Iwański, editor-in-chief of “Farmer”, comment on the decisions of the last summit of agricultural ministers of the EU.