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Saturday 23 September 2017

MEPs vote to allow Member States to increase young farmers' top-up to 50%

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Agriculture MEPs have approved a proposal to allow EU Member States increase young farmers’ top-ups from 25pc to 50pc of the basic payment entitlement.

The European Parliament Agriculture Committee also voted on Wednesday that the top-up should be made available to farmers under 40 years old who have already been farming for some time and so are not just setting up their business, but only if they have not been in receipt of young farmers’ support until now.

MEPs also endorsed the Commission’s proposal to give Member States more flexibility to define an active farmer, i.e. a person eligible for EU farm subsidies. But they strictly opposed the suggestion to allow EU states to do away with the definition completely as of 2018.

MEPs also agreed that farmers in all sectors should see their bargaining power boosted, farming rules simplified and be better equipped to deal with market challenges and production risks.

They want the Commission to table a law against unfair trading practices in the food supply chain.

In the aftermath of series of agricultural crises in recent years MEPs also insist that farmers need better tools to protect themselves from both market volatility and unforeseen production risks such as adverse weather conditions, plants pests or animal diseases.

Among the MEPs proposals is a suggestion to extend the existing scheme, which grants aid to dairy farmers who voluntarily reduce supply of their geographically protected products (PDO and PGI labels) in times of serious market imbalances, to all other sectors and to allow for coupled support, currently limited to sectors or regions struggling with maintaining previous levels of production, automatically to the protein crops sector.

MEPs also endorsed the Commission’s proposal to give member states more flexibility to define an active farmer, i.e. a person eligible for EU farm subsidies. But they strictly opposed the suggestion to allow EU states to do away with the definition completely as of 2018.

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Next steps

The opinion of the Agriculture Committee will now be forwarded to the Budgets and Budgetary Control Committees. Their MEPs intend to vote on the draft legislative resolution during the 30 May joint committee meeting.

The Agriculture Committee has an associated status on this draft regulation. This means that its amendments should be automatically accepted by lead committees and once given a green light by the Parliament per se, Agriculture Committee negotiators should lead trialogue talks with the Council and the Commission on CAP-related aspects of the draft regulation.

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