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Green Deal. The European Union will withdraw some of the requirements for farmers

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On Monday, EU countries in the Council of the European Union finally approved changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which are to abolish some of the requirements related to the decarbonization of agriculture. Among other things, the fallow obligation will be withdrawn, which was originally assumed in the European Green Deal.

Changes to the two regulations governing the CAP were proposed by the European Commission in mid-March in the wake of farmers' protests in many European countries against the European Green Deal. This is a legislative package that is intended to lead the Community to climate neutrality in 2050 by reducing emissions in many sectors, including agriculture. The new regulations were processed urgently and were adopted in just two months.

An encouragement, not an obligation

The changes specifically concern three of the eight conditionalities adopted by the EU in 2021 as part of the European Green Deal, which define “standards for good agriculture and environmental protection” (GAEC). Under the law approved on Monday, farmers will be released from the obligation to allocate a minimum part of their arable land to non-productive areas, such as fallow land (GAEC 8). The obligation will be replaced with incentives – not cultivating part of arable land will not result in farmers losing subsidies under the CAP, but they will be able to receive additional financial support for it. The implementation of the two remaining conditions – on the use of crop rotation (GAEC 7) and on soil protection (GAEC 6) – will depend to a large extent on the decisions of the member states. The use of crop rotation is intended to protect biodiversity and prevent the emergence of large monocultures, which is why it has become an important element of the European Green Deal. According to the regulation, larger farms should introduce more diversified crops: in the case of farms with an area of ​​10 to 30 hectares, crop rotation is to consist in maintaining at least two different crops on arable land, and the main crop cannot cover more than 75%. surface; however, if the farm is more than 30 hectares, diversification will mean at least three different crops, and the two main crops cannot exceed 95%. its surface. However, the changes finally approved on Monday allow member states to exempt from these rules farms that grow mainly grasses, fodder or legumes, as well as those that use fallow land on most of their agricultural land.

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The changes include, among others: financial incentives for using fallow land.Shutterstock

Green Deal. What else will change?

Small farms with an area of ​​less than 10 hectares will be exempt from inspections and penalties for non-compliance with CAP rules. This is intended to simplify the work of small agricultural producers, who constitute 65%. CAP beneficiaries. As for larger farms, the EC announced in February more simplified inspection rules, which is expected to reduce the number of inspector visits by half. The new rules are also intended to ease the burden on national administrations. Additionally, Member States will be able to exempt farmers from compliance with GAEC conditions in the event of unfavorable weather conditions that prevent farmers from functioning properly. The European Parliament approved the changes on April 24 at the last meeting of its term, so Monday's decision of the EU Council ends the legislative process. The changes will enter into force the day after they are published in the Official Journal of the EU, i.e. by the end of May. However, they will apply retroactively – farmers will be able to use them when submitting applications also for the current year.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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