More butterflies and flowers to be a 'key requirement' of new CAP
New CAP will demand better results on biodiversity schemes
The next CAP will be more results-based from an environmental perspective and will have to deliver quantifiable benefits on biodiversity and climate change.
A senior EU Commission official told farmers that ensuring there are "more butterflies and flowers" will be a key requirement of CAP from 2020.
Humberto Delgado Rosa stressed that an "enhanced level of ambition" on both the environment and climate change will be an essential feature of the new CAP and that the role of farmers and landowners in delivering these objectives must be recognised.
However, Mr Delgado, who is a senior official with the Commission's environment division, DG ENV, said that having a CAP which "takes more account of nature" meant that it would have to "deliver better results".
Mr Delgado was speaking at a conference in Carrick-on-Shannon last Friday entitled 'Generating a return on High Nature Value (HNV) land'.
Local MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan said that the proposed 5pc cut to the next CAP budget highlighted the difficulty in defending the current regime.
Mr Flanagan said continuing to guarantee high CAP payments to individual farmers based on what they produced 15 years ago was totally unacceptable to Europe's taxpayers - a point which he claimed Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan had conceded.
"If we are to defend the CAP budget we must show that we are serious in our commitment to environmental measures," Mr Flanagan said.
Firing one of the first salvos in the battle for a greater share of Ireland's €1.5 billion annual CAP budget, the Midland-North-West MEP argued that the increased environmental focus of CAP justified far higher payments on HNV lands.
"Every acre of land in Ireland has its vital role to play in overarching goals of food production, the provision of public goods and climate mitigation," he said.
Mr Flanagan said the public goods that agriculture - and HNV lands in particular - provides but are not paid for include the maintenance of agricultural landscapes and biodiversity, greenhouse gas mitigation, reduced risk of flooding, as well as water availability and quality.
Citing initiatives such as Bord Bia's Origin Green campaign, he accused the more intensive farming sectors of trading on the "green image" of Irish agriculture even though these landscapes were invariably created and maintained by the efforts of farmers managing HNV lands.
Mr Flanagan said the efforts of HNV farmers would receive greater recognition in the more environmentally focused 'new CAP'.
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