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Slovak farmers not entirely happy with new CAP

THE LONG-AWAITED reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will become a reality after a political agreement was reached, following two years of negotiations between the European institutions and the member states, on June 26, 2013.

THE LONG-AWAITED reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will become a reality after a political agreement was reached, following two years of negotiations between the European institutions and the member states, on June 26, 2013.

The European Parliament, the EU Council of Ministers and the European Commission (EC) have reached an agreement on reforming the common agricultural policy (CAP) after 2013.

“I am delighted with this agreement, which gives the Common Agricultural Policy a new direction, takes better account of society’s expectations as expressed during the public debate in spring 2010,” said Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, as quoted in the press release, adding that the agreement will lead to far-reaching changes: making direct payments fairer and greener, strengthening the position of farmers within the food production chain and making the CAP more efficient and more transparent.

Most aspects of the reform will become effective as of January 2014.

The EC claims that direct payments are to be distributed in a fairer way between member states, between regions and between farmers, e.g. no single country should receive less than 75 percent of the EU average by 2019, and aid per hectare may not be less than 60 percent of the average of the aid disbursed by 2019 in a single administrative or agronomic area.

Young farmers will be strongly encouraged to set up businesses, with the introduction in all member states of a 25 percent aid supplement during the first five years, in addition to the existing investment measures aimed at young farmers, the EC reported.

Between 2014 and 2020, over €100 billion will be invested to help farming meet the challenges of soil and water quality, biodiversity and climate change: 30 percent of direct payments will be linked to three environmentally-friendly farming practices: crop diversification, maintaining permanent grassland and conserving 5 percent - and later 7 percent - of areas of ecological interest as of 2018, or other measures considered to be at least equivalent in terms of environmental benefits.

The reform still needs to be passed by the European Parliament and the member states.

Slovak farmers have already voiced concerns about some discriminatory elements remaining in the CAP.

“Concerning the support policy, we still won’t be on the same starting line with western-European countries,” the head of the Slovak Agricultural and Food Chamber (SPPK) Milan Semančík said, as quoted by the SITA newswire, pointing to the fact that direct payments are apparently not going to be equalised in the 2014-2020 programme period.

The ecological interests of the CAP provoked mixed feelings among farmers from the new member states, particularly the obligation to conserve 5 percent of their arable land.

“We consider this measure counterproductive, because it leads to limiting the production potential of the European agricultural sector in a time when the whole world is dealing with the issue of satisfying the rising demand for food,” Semančík said as quoted by SITA.

Slovak farmers on the other hand praise the fact that the direct payment limits for big agricultural companies will not be compulsory for all member states.

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