Agricultural organizations, with the exception of the Union of Small Farmers (UPA), have received with suspicion and concern the agreement reached by the European Ministers of Agriculture on the new reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will begin to apply to starting in 2023 and that for Spain represents an amount of 47,724 million euros, about 5,000 million per year for direct payments and another 1,500 million for rural development. Officially, it is a similar figure to that received in the previous period, but the sector estimates that it represents an adjustment of 10% due to the effect of inflation and other measures.
However, the main criticism of the organizations is the sectoral distribution of funds: 40% will go to green policies, which will include the so-called eco-schemes. These green funds, which will account for a quarter of the budget, say the agricultural associations, include new environmental requirements that will entail higher production costs for a lower supply, as well as the loss of competitiveness compared to extra-community imports, with fewer labor demands, environmental and food safety.
The sector fears that this will mean less profitability, the closure of small and medium-sized farms and less food self-sufficiency for the European Union. They criticize that no further progress has been made in the recovery of some mechanisms for regulating the markets. “With red numbers”, union media agree, “we cannot be green”.
Waiting for negotiations
In this scenario, the agrarian organizations point out the need to wait for the negotiations to be applied in Spain, based on the elaboration of the Strategic Plan where the redistribution of funds and the application of aid convergence policies – charge the same for a same activity— they are key pieces.
The general secretary of the UPA, Lorenzo Ramos, makes a general positive assessment of the PAC as it includes important points defended by the organization, such as the redistribution of 10% of the basic payment funds among small and medium-sized farms, the ceiling of the aid in the 100,000 euros per beneficiary and the adjustment of the same. Also the increase to 3% of funds for the incorporation of young people to the sector.
The toughest positions come from the Coordinator of Farmers and Livestock Organizations (COAG), where its secretary general, Miguel Blanco, considers that environmental conditionality, something that the organization also defends, cannot endanger the sustainability of the farms. “We farmers do not want to be the gardeners of the EU,” says Blanco. COAG estimates that the greater demands derived from the green policy, which covers 40% of the funds, as well as the reduction in the use of fertilizers, phytosanitary or zoosanitary products, will translate into a lower supply with higher costs at the producers’ backs , which will lead to a less competitive position against imports. In short, it augurs the closure of small and medium-sized farms. One more step to “uberize” (in reference to the driverless vehicle company) the activity.
Food self-sufficiency in danger
COAG also warns that the EU’s own food self-sufficiency is being put at risk at a key moment to avoid the risks of global food shortages. The organization estimates that the ceiling of 100.00 euros of aid per petitioner is a very high figure and denounces that the conditions of genuine farmers as priority recipients of the aid are being decaffeinated.
The Union of Unions considers that the agreement on the future CAP involves jeopardizing the profitability of crops and community farms due to the excessive reinforcement of green policies, which allocate 25% of funds to eco-schemes and 35% of funds from the second pillar, rural development, also for environmental purposes. The organization agrees in its complaints against imports as unfair competition in this green scenario against community productions and regrets that no progress has been made in the recovery of some mechanisms for regulating the markets whose dismantling took place in recent years.
In Asaja and its territorial organizations, it is denounced that the community environmental ambition that “everyone” in the sector can “share” is not complemented with greater funds, which affects the activity of professionals. That is why they advocate for a national strategic plan that collects the real situation and the needs of the sector, supporting its viability.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.