Livestock production could grind to a halt across parts of Europe if the EU presses ahead with plans to review support in less-favoured areas (LFAs), farm leaders have been warned.
European farmers’ union Copa-Cogeca said redefining criteria for classifying LFAs would strip many producers of their LFA status, leaving them unable to farm.
Copa-Cogeca president Gerd Sonnleitner said the move would hit livestock farmers as well as other sectors, wiping out farming in many regions.
“This is totally unacceptable and we urge the European Commission to rethink its strategy,” he told ministers.
He said the EU livestock sector was already on the brink of another crisis thanks to many member states suffering from drought, causing insufficient supplies of fodder.
“Copa-Cogeca consequently urges EU politicians to keep a close eye on this and ensure action is taken to help farmers survive it.”
Mr Sonnleitner said that EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos’s support for advancing payment for 80% of the suckler cow premium and for direct payments by 16 October to help compensate farmers affected by drought was a welcome move.
But he said it was also vital that livestock farmers were offered emergency financing to help them through the current “difficult period”.
“Additional measures also need to be examined to help deal with the availability problem of dried fodder. These include harvesting set-aside areas and green cover areas,” said Mr Sonnleitner.
Copa-Cogeca’s warning came as the European Commission put out a communication on LFA reclassification.
A spokesman from the NFU Brussels office said legislative proposals were likely to come forward at the same time as plans to revamp the Common Agricultural Policy, expected in October.
“We have real concerns with the current commission thinking on LFAs,” the spokesman added.
“We will be working behind the scenes with officials from the commission and DEFRA and with MEPs to make sure our LFA farmers do not lose out.”