New EU agro-policy: strategic guidelines and national plans

In mid-December 2022, the Commission finalised national strategic plans in ago-policies: 2023 is going to be the year of new directions in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, CAP with orientations on not only on fair, flexible, greener and more social agricultural production; the EU CAP will also promote sustainable and high quality agro-food both in the EU-wide and globally.

The ideas of new CAP directions were formulated already in 2018, when the European Commission revealed proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform by introducing new approaches in modernising and simplifying the EU’s policy on agriculture.
New CAP legislation was formally adopted at the end of 2021 with the deadlines for the member states to submit their agricultural “strategic plans” by January 2022.
After receiving the national plans, the Commission sent observation letters to all of the states at the end of May 2022.
On new CAP legislation in: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_2711

After some “structured dialogue” between the Commission and member states, the revised EU-CAP plans were approved. During the dialogue, the EU’s climate and environmental contribution to CAP and its components on the EU’s “farm to fork” program and the biodiversity strategies was closely examined. In light of the ongoing commodity and energy price surge, the Commission invited the member states to consider reviewing their strategic agro-plans to strengthen the resilience of the sector, increase food security, scale up the production of renewable energy and reduce dependence on synthetic fertilizers with more sustainable production methods.
Due to rapidly changing challenges, the CAP strategic plans will be closely monitored and amended during the implementation period.
National plans can be seen at: https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/cap-my-country/cap-strategic-plans/approved-csp-0_en?f%5B0%5D=document_country_document_country%3Ahttp%3A//publications.europa.eu/resource/authority/country/NLD

Strategic plans: main objectives
The EU CAP and the member states plans are aimed at supporting viable farmers’ income and the resilience of the agricultural sector with the following three main objectives:
= Fair CAP. CAP direct payments remain a safety net for farmers: about €20 billion of basic income support is distributed to eligible farmers each year. However, it is conditional on farmers applying strengthened basic standards for good agriculture and environmental conditions (GAECs). The GAECs are expected to cover close to 90% of the EU agricultural land.
The new CAP will direct a higher level of public support to those who need it most: e.g. SMEs in 25 EU states will receive higher income support due to a redistributive payment amounting to 10.6% of all direct payments (which amounts to €4 billion annually and is 2.5 times more than the redistributive payments under existing CAP). Besides, to assist farmers in dealing with crises, about 15% of EU farms -participating in mutual funds and/or other risk management tools- will receive additional “insurance premium”. The level of support for protein crops/legumes through coupled income support will be increased by 25%, which will help reduce the dependence of EU farmers on imports and use of certain fertilizers. Seventeen other sectors undergoing difficulties will also receive coupled support, reaching 21% of the EU farmers.
= Greener CAP. Three out of ten of the new CAP’s specific objectives are directly including environmental and climate aspects: thus, the states are required to demonstrate higher ambitions concerning their CAP plans from these two perspectives. Therefore, about €98 billion, which corresponds to 32% of the total CAP funding (EU and co-financing), will be devoted to delivering benefits for the climate, water, soil, air, biodiversity and animal welfare, as well as to encourage perspective practices. In the breakdown of the agro-funds, 24% of direct payments are dedicated to eco-schemes and 48% of rural development spending will be fully supporting environmental and climate objectives.
Besides, the new CAP will incentivize land managers to store carbon in soil and biomass, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help with adaptation in 35% of the EU’s agricultural area through appropriate management practices, such as extensive grassland management, growing of leguminous and catch-crops, organic fertilisation or agro-forestry.
In the new obligations for farmer, crop rotation is expected to be at the level of 85% of the EU CAP-supported arable land: it will help disrupt pest and disease cycles and thus reduce the use and risk of pesticides. Additionally, more than 26% of EU agricultural land will receive support for, among other things, adopting integrated pest management and using non–chemical methods for pest control or precision farming.
The CAP support for organic production up to 2027 will almost double compared to the area funded in 2018; it is going to be a major contributor to reaching the national ambitions for increasing the organic area that would increase from 5 to 30% by 2030.
Finally, planned investments in renewable energy production on farms will add 1.556 MW to the EU’s energy production capacity.
= More social CAP. EU’s rural areas face several challenges, including depopulation, limited access to improved basic services and opportunities for employment, as well as the need for better connectivity. Hence, new CAP will invest in the social and economic fabric of EU rural areas with e.g. specific support to young farmers and the states have to approve a minimum requirement of dedicating 3% of their direct payments to generational renewal.
Generally, about €8.5 billion of public spending will help young farmers set up, invest and maintain their business in their first years of activity. In the 2023-2027 period, a total of 377 000 new young farmers are expected to be established as farmers in full capacity.
Some EU states plan additional efforts to encourage farm succession, enhanced gender equality in rural areas and strengthen the position of women in farming.
The European agricultural fund for rural development, will dedicate about €5 billion to local development strategies (the so-called LEADER approach) which increased by over 7 percent and is expected to cover 65% of the European rural population.
For the first time, CAP payments will be linked to the respect of certain EU social and labour standards: beneficiaries will be incentivised to improve working conditions on farms. New EU CAP will support investments into increasing living and working conditions in rural areas making them more attractive and creating at least 400,000 new jobs. Equally, support to investment in digital technologies and services to optimise resource efficiency will be provided in the new CAP. Thus, more than 6 million people will directly benefit from CAP funded services, training and knowledge exchange for farmers wishing to participate in innovation projects under the European Innovation Partnership with a focus on environmental, climate performance as well as social and rural aspects.
References to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_7639

High quality EU agro-food
The European Commission will allocate about €186 million in 2023 to fund promotion activities for sustainable and high quality EU agro-food products in the EU and worldwide. The promotion policy (adopted by the Commission in mid-December) contributes to the realisation of the EU’s political priorities, in particular the so-called “farm to fork” strategy. The latter aims to accelerate transition in the member states to a sustainable food system that should: a) have a neutral or positive environmental impact; b) help mitigating climate change and adapt to its impacts; c) reverse the loss of biodiversity; d) ensure food security, nutrition and public health (while ensuring everybody’s access to safe and nutritious food; and e) preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade.
On “farm-to-fork” strategy in: https://food.ec.europa.eu/horizontal-topics/farm-fork-strategy_en

The promotion projects selected for 2023 were to favour agro-products complying with objectives such as sustainability of EU agriculture, advancing animal welfare, promoting consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as ensure healthy and sustainable diets. The amounts available for farmers in 2023 are split between promotion in the EU internal market and in third countries, with €83.3 million and €83.1 million respectively. Outside the EU, for example, the United Kingdom remains one of the main export markets for EU agro-food products (25% of EU exports).
Selected campaigns will inform EU and global consumers of the various EU quality schemes and labels such as geographical indications or organic products. The latter category will benefit from allocated funding of up to €28 million to stimulate demand for organic products, in line with the action plan for organic production.
On geographical indicators in: https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/farming/geographical-indications-and-quality-schemes/geographical-indications-and-quality-schemes-explained_en;
On organic farming in: https://agriculture.ec.europa.eu/farming/organic-farming_en

Additionally, €36 million will support the promotion of sustainable agriculture practices beneficial for the climate, the environment and animal welfare by the European consumers and the consumption of sustainably produced agro-food products.
To encourage healthier and balanced diets, more than €19 million will be specifically earmarked for the promotion of fresh fruit and vegetables to help the sector face persisting challenges such as declining consumption and exports and a weak bargaining position vis-à-vis large-scale retail and processors.
Generally, promotion activities are aimed at consumers on the EU internal market and should be in line with dietary guidelines of the targeted member states. The calls for proposals for the upcoming 2023 campaigns will be published in January 2023 by the European Research Executive Agency.
A wide range of bodies, such as trade organisations, producer organisations and agro-food groups responsible for promotion activities are eligible to apply for funding and submit their proposals. So-called ‘simple’ programs can be submitted by one or more organisations from the same EU country. ‘Multi’ programs come from at least two national organisations from at least two EU states, or from one or more European organisations.
Promotion campaigns about EU farm products are designed to open up new market opportunities for EU farmers and the wider food industry, as well as helping them build their existing business. In addition to increasing sustainable production and consumption of agricultural products, promotion policy also supports the sustainable recovery of the EU agro-food sector in a challenging economic context.

Citation: “European farmers have showed great resilience in the face of several disruptions and high costs in the last year. The promotion of European agro-food products and their quality, in the EU and worldwide, is an important dimension of the Commission’s support to farmers and producers. Our promotion policy helps them in finding new markets and spreading the reputation of their products. The EU is the world’s top exporter of agro-food products thanks to our productivity and recognised excellence”. Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture – 16/12/2022.
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_7769.

More Information in: =Overview of the 28 CAP Strategic Plans at a glance; = The CAP 2023-2027; = CAP Strategic Plans; = Observation letters on CAP Strategic Plans
Note: the EII’s analysis on CAP is available at: https://www.integrin.dk/2021/10/18/european-common-agricultural-policy-present-and-future/

 

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