Hogan: Do more on environment to maintain CAP budget

European Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
European Commissioner Phil Hogan. Photo: Reuters
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Commissioner Phil Hogan has told EU Agriculture Ministers that there is an urgent need for farmers to do more for the environment and that if Ministers sent a clear signal that climate and the environment will be at the heart of the CAP it would be an excellent argument for keeping maintaining CAP budget.

In his remarks to the Agriculture Council meeting on the Commission's environment proposals under the planned reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), he said the EU has committed to ambitious 2030 climate and energy targets where all sectors including agriculture will have to contribute.

"There will be no acceptations. The need for aiming higher has never been more urgent.

"Everybody has to put their shoulder to the wheel.

"Farmers work in all weather all year round. They can see with their own eyes what is happening.

The Commission is proposing a number of new approaches to addressing environmental issues through the CAP.

The new measures include the mandatory provision of eco-schemes, as part of the Pillar I direct payments and the inclusion of greater environmental conditionality on EU payments with links to requirements such as the Water Framework Directive and proposals for mandatory nutrient management plans.

The plans set out that 30pc of the Rural Development Programme expenditure, excluding payments for areas of natural constraints, must be focused on biodiversity/environment/climate-related measures.

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While Mr Hogan said some progress had been made in the agri-food sector regarding climate and environment, he stressed that it is very clear that agriculture has to do more and has to do it faster.

"Biodiversity in regions of intensive agriculture is disappearing at an alarming rate,” he said, while nitrates are the main pollutant affecting 18pc of the groundwater courses of the EU.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said at the meeting in Brussels that a proper budget for the CAP is vital.

"We ask farm families - households that do not have the most generous incomes - to take on ever greater responsibility for the provision of more and better public goods.  

"We need to be able to support this.  Well, all of this costs money. 

So, again and again, I’m going to say that we need a proper budget. 

"Of course we have to be efficient and effective in how we manage it, but if we are reaching for the top - if we want to be the global best as our citizens are demanding - we need the right support to make this happen.  

"We must maintain the CAP budget," he said.

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