The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have recently voted for a transition to a greener agriculture sector: they approved that 30% of the direct payments made to farmers in the future will be given to farmers that apply certain ecological practices. This is one of the main reforms to the common agricultural policy (CAP). The European Parliament agriculture Commission has voted on more than 8000 amendments as a result of four legislative reports that make up the reform of the CAP for the period 2014-2020. The amendments include changes in the remuneration system to farmers and to rural development policies.
The MEPs voted that 30% of the payments be made to farmers that applied three important measures: rotation of crops, the maintenance of an ecological area of interest and permanent pasture.
They also voted some exceptions to give more flexibility to the farmers. The small holdings with less than 10 hectares should remain exempt from these rules, farms between 10 and 30 hectares may rotate two crops and farms of over 30 hectares should comply with all three rules. Another exception are farms that already apply national environmental standards and therefore are already respecting the environment. These farms are also to be exempt from these ecological or “greening” rules.
The instigator of these measures, the Portuguese socialist Mr Capoulas Santos, is satisfied that from now on, all the EU agriculture sector will comply with the same ecological legislation, no matter which country the farms are based in. Weather or not that country could afford investments in earlier rural development programmes.
These proposals need to be ratified by the Agricultural Commission and obtain the approval of the Parliament as a whole, before the MEPs initiate negotiations with the member states about the final shape of the future agricultural policy of the UE. The final voting is tentatively planned for the next session in March in Strasburg, and is pending the final numbers for the global EU budgets for 2014-2020.
These are real steps towards a more sustainable agriculture in the EU!