Changes to agri-environment schemes are needed so farmers in entry-level stewardship automatically qualify for support payments following CAP reform, the NFU has warned.
Farmers in environmental schemes should see their efforts recognised so they could receive “green” payments without having to jump through additional hoops, said Gail Soutar, NFU senior adviser on CAP and international affairs.
“If we are successful in achieving that – and I do believe we will be – there will have to be changes to agri-environment schemes rules, because current EU legislation says you can’t be paid twice for doing the same thing.”
It was unlikely that the EU or DEFRA would allow a situation where farmers would benefit from “double-funding”, said Ms Soutar. But the discussion was still being played out at a European level, she told NFU council members on Tuesday (22 January).
Her comments came as the European Parliament’s agriculture committee prepared to vote on a series of amendments to the commission’s CAP reform proposals during a two-day meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday (23-24 January).
The draft adopted by the agriculture committee this week will be put to a vote by the entire European Parliament in March. It will then serve as a basis for the parliament to negotiate new farming rules with EU member states.
European commission agriculture spokesman Roger Waite said farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos remained strongly against “double-funding”. It was not good for taxpayers, and not good for the CAP, he said.