Europe’s young farmers need a more robust ‘active farmer’ definition implemented in all member states, said Seán Finan, European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) vice-president and former Macra na Feirme president.
Mr Finan told European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, that young European farmers fear that any further dilution of the ‘active farmer’ definition as proposed in the EU’s new Omnibus Regulation.
Mr Finan welcomed the agreements reached by MEPs and European Council negotiators, which he said point towards a simpler and fairer EU farming policy after 2018 — including boosting farmers’ bargaining power and making sure they are equipped to face risks.
The omnibus regulation proposes that member states will have the choice to implement the ‘active farmer’ definition or not. Among other concerns, CEJA and other farmer groups argue that a strong ‘active farmer’ definition is key to ensuring EU supports go to progressive farmers, whose work will continue to deliver benefits for Europe’s environment and society in general.
Mr Finan said: “CEJA believes the definition of an active farmer must be formulated at EU level and not by individual member states. The current definition is inadequate and a stronger one is needed to better target supports to farmers.
While the simplification of the CAP is a top priority for CEJA, it cannot come at the expense of an effective farm policy.
“A strong and more robust active farmer definition implemented across all member states is vital to ensure that CAP payments are directed towards active, business-minded, progressive farmers who are delivering public goods and producing high quality, safe, fully traceable food to the highest environmental and animal welfare standards.
“The outcome of the omnibus proposal negotiations on the active farmer definition threatens this.”
CEJA welcomes the proposed changes to the Income Stabilisation Tool, enabling aid to be activated according to sector when income losses reach 20% instead of 30%.
Farmers’ losses will, therefore, be determined in terms of the type of production that was affected. They will receive compensation even if their other productions did not suffer.
CEJA also appreciates the possibility for young farmers to benefit from the young farmers’ top-up for the full five years regardless of when they apply for it over this time and to increase the top-up from 25% to 50% of the basic payment entitlement.
Mr Finan added: “CEJA acknowledges the efforts of those involved in the negotiations to ensure young farmers are better provided for in CAP.
"The decisions taken in the negotiation on the omnibus regulation can under no circumstances serve as a starting point for the discussion on the next CAP. A clear definition of ‘active farmer’ in all member states is imperative for the future of the CAP and for EU agriculture in general.”
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