The combined organisation representing EU farmers and agri-cooperatives, Copa-Cogeca, has responded to the EU Commission’s decision to suspend the application (derogation) of certain rules within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) owing to disruptions from the Russia-Ukraine invasion.
The Commission has announced a one-year derogation from CAP rules on fallow lands, specifically the GAEC 8 standard. GAEC stands for good agricultural and environmental conditions.
In a statement on 31 January 2024, the European Commission explained: “The GAEC 8 standard requires, among other things, devoting a minimum share of arable land to non-productive areas or features [4%]. The latter typically refers to land lying fallow but also features such as hedges or trees. Farms with fewer than ten hectares of arable land are typically exempted from this obligation. Today, the Commission provides the possibility for all EU farmers to be exempted from this requirement and still be eligible for their CAP basic direct payment.”
Farmers growing nitrogen-fixing crops, such as lentils or peas, or catch crops, without plant protection products, on 7% of their arable land will be considered as meeting the requirement for direct payment, said the statement. Catch crops grown between two main crops.
When providing background, the Commission said that “high energy and input prices resulting from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, costs of living/inflation, changed international trade flows and the need to support Ukraine have created further uncertainties and market pressure.”
The Commission said it would renew the suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian exports to EU member states for another year to June 2025.
“The price of cereals also sharply declined compared to 2022, which led the EU27 value of cereals production to decrease from €80.6 billion in 2022 to €58.8 billion in 2023 – a reduction of nearly 30%. In such conditions, the obligation to set arable land aside may have a significant short-term negative impact on the revenue of certain farmers,” the Commission said.
“Copa-Cogeca has repeatedly asked the European Commission to consider derogations from CAP conditionality (e.g. GAEC 6, 7 and 8), eco-schemes and agri-environment-climate commitments which build on these, for 2024. We called for a common action to address these severe difficulties,” said COPA Cogeca
To learn more about the Geopolitics of Agribusiness and Food Security, come to the New AG International seminar 9th April located with the New AG International Annual event, upcoming in Berlin, 10-11 April.