Subsidy payments will be slashed to farmers who refuse to place land under environmental management, Brussels has confirmed.

Individual direct payments will be reduced by 30% unless the recipient implements environmental measures across 7% of their land.

The plan is included in draft CAP reform proposals unveiled by European farm commissioner Dacian Cioloş on Wednesday (12 October).

The commission believes a “greener” CAP will reinforce the “ecological durability of the agricultural sector” and enhance farmers’ environmental efforts.

Some 30% of direct payments would therefore be used to encourage farmers to implement ecologically efficient practices.

These included crop diversification, maintenance of permanent pasture, preservation of ecological reserves and landscapes.

The draft reforms, which cover the period 2014-2020, aimed to strengthen the competitiveness, sustainability and permanence of agriculture, said Mr Cioloş.

“Europe needs its farmers. Farmers need Europe’s support. The CAP is what feeds us, it’s the future of more than half of our territory.”

CAP reform would secure a healthy and high-quality source of food for European citizens while preserving the environment and developing rural areas.

Other measures include proposals the commission says will support “active” farmers’ income in a fairer, simpler and more targeted manner.

A ceiling on support will see payments progressively reduced once they reach EURO150,000 with businesses subject to a maximum payment ceiling of EURO300,000 per farm per year.

Meanwhile, the commission is proposing to double expenditure on agricultural research and development.

To encourage new entrants into the industry, it has announced plans for start-up assistance to farmers under 40 during the first five years of their business.

At the same time, Brussels is proposing to simplify several mechanisms to avoid unnecessary additional administrative costs.

These include reforming cross-compliance rules and control systems, which it says can be done without sacrificing effectiveness.

Moreover, support for small farmers will also be simplified. A flat-rate payment will be created for the latter, ranging from EUR 500 to 1 000 per farm per year.

The sale of land by small farmers who cease agricultural activity to other farms willing to restructure their farms will be encouraged.


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