Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Commission insists CAP 'greening' will not restrict output

Caitriona Murphy and Darragh McCullough

The European Commission has rejected suggestions that "greening" of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2013 would result in a reduction in agricultural output.

A spokesman for the commission has insisted that while farmers would have to wait to hear final proposals in October, it was not the commission's intention to cut agricultural output. He was responding to comments by IFA president John Bryan made at a meeting of COPA in Brussels.

Mr Bryan said compulsory greening measures should not add further environmental restrictions over and above those already in place, and that farmers required simplification of the regulations and not additional bureaucracy or compliance costs.

"In the context of the Food Harvest 2020 growth plans for the country, it would be important that these new greening measures do not restrict the potential of Irish farmers to sustainably grow food production," Mr Bryan said.

IBEC's dairy policy adviser Michael Barry echoed this view when he called for the EU to rewrite its climate change laws.

"With the Irish agricultural sector already accounting for over a third of all our greenhouse gas emissions, it will never hit the 2020 targets if at the same time the EU is looking for a 20pc decrease in emissions," Mr Barry said.

Limits

"China and the US are also signed up to the UN convention on climate change, but they are avoiding imposing limits on their farmers by offsetting emissions against forestry and using improved technology."

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However, the commission spokesman said the CAP post-2013 would "not be designed to make life difficult for farmers but easier for consumers to see the global benefit of agriculture".

He added that Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos had indicated that the commission was "more inclined not to include" green cover establishment for arable fields over winter as a compulsory measure.

This move away from compulsory green cover was a result of the increased administrative burden and additional inspections that would be needed to enforce such a measure.

The commission was examining crop diversity and rotations as a requirement for arable farms and permanent pasture for livestock farms, the spokesman said.

"The commission's intention is to have options that are regular or common practices. It's not a question of farmers doing something new," he said.

Speaking at the COPA conference, Mr Bryan said the priority now should be 'green growth' that would maintain production capacity and growth, and have a positive impact on the environment.

Meanwhile, Mr Bryan has been invited by French farm organisation FNSEA to attend the G20 session in Paris, where agriculture will be on the agenda for the first time.

Chaired by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the summit will address price volatility, climate change and sustainable growth.

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