7 key EU farm policy rule changes for 2018 that every farmer should know about

Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A raft of changes to EU farm policy came into force as of January 1, 2018 continue the drive towards a simpler, more modern Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The so-called Omnibus regulation simplifies and strengthens existing EU rules on a wide range of agriculture issues from risk management to support for young farmers, and is the latest in a series of simplification and modernisation measures implemented by the Commission.

Among the key improvements included in the Omnibus are:

Stronger support for farmers' position in the food supply chain

The new rules will include value sharing clauses to be negotiated by every product sector, and give farmers the right to ask for a written contract for the first time (unless trading with SMEs);

Clearer rules on support for farmers (including young farmers)

This will come notably through more flexibility on the definition of active farmers and stronger incentives for young farmers, with an increase in additional payments from 25pc to 50pc and guaranteeing all young farmers the right to the full five-year allowance for these payments, regardless of when they apply for them within their first five years of their setting-up;

Improved environmental measures

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Simpler rules on crop diversification and the addition of three new types of ecological focus area focused on nitrogen-fixing crops, giving farmers and national authorities more options to suit their particular circumstances.

With a clear emphasis on more flexible and less bureaucratic rules

As well as a focus on improving results in key areas such as environmental action and support for farmers, the changes proposed through the Omnibus are fully in line with the new approach to the CAP after 2020 outlined in the recent Communication on the Future of Food and Farming.

Greater flexibility for Member States to support specific sectors

These include sectors of economic, social or environmental importance through voluntary coupled support, even when these sectors are not in crisis

Simpler risk management tools to help farmers,

These include a sector-specific income stabilisation tool and improvements to insurance schemes that will allow compensation of up to 70pc for farmers whose production or income is cut by at least 20pc

Clearer rules governing intervention in markets

This will allow the Commission to act rapidly to address market failures without having to use public intervention or private storage measures;

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said the developments in the European Parliament and the Council, which pave the way for the implementation of a series of significant simplification measures, which will make the lives of farmers and other CAP beneficiaries easier.

"These include the important areas of simplification of the rules for financial instruments, the improvement of risk management tools and greater flexibility for the active farmer provision," he said.

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