EU-wide concern on CAP ‘greening’ conditions

All of the EU’s major farming organisations are “extremely concerned” about the new “greening” demands under the new CAP, a meeting in Brussels revealed.

This was the conclusion of a recent meeting which brought together farm leaders of all the major EU farming organisations.

The European farm lobby organisation Copa-Cogeca, which represents 28 million farmers across the EU, convened the session.

Speaking afterwards, Ian Marshall, president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), said: “The uncertainty about the implementation of greening was the single biggest issue raised, with speaker after speaker stressing that there is simply not enough information coming from Europe to help farmers comply with the new ‘greening’ requirements.

“While it was recognised that greening was not going to be delayed and would be introduced, it was emphasised that the review planned by the EU Commission in 2017 had to take a serious look at its complexity and what it really delivered.”

In addition, Mr Marshall noted that farming organisations were in full agreement that there should be no greening penalties until the details were completely finalised, properly communicated and understood by farmers.

This was also supported by the MEP representatives from the European Parliament’s agriculture committee who attended the meeting.

“At a local level, we are still extremely concerned by the level of understanding of the details and implications of greening,” said Mr Marshall.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) recently hosted a series of three meetings throughout Northern Ireland about greening requirements.

However, of the estimated minimum of 1,500 farm businesses likely to have to deliver on the greening requirements, only about 500 attended.

Mr Marshall said it was also clear that the majority of those who did attend felt overwhelmed by the intense detail of the requirements they will be expected to meet.

“Greening accounts for 30% of each individual’s single farm payment, so ensuring that the associated rules are met is very important for farm businesses,” he added.

“More work still needs to be done on greening and we will be meeting with Dard minister Michelle O’Neill over the next few weeks to highlight farmers’ genuine concerns on this important matter.”

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