Greening the CAP - securing the benefits at the least cost to farm competitiveness

The clear message from the April ‘12 meeting of the council of Ministers was that the European Commission will not compromise on including greening requirements for farm payments in pillar 1 of the CAP. Dacian Cioloş said he would be willing to broaden the list of measures that can count as ‘greening’, but only if the requirement remains in the first pillar.

So is it time for Defra (and some other) ministers to accept that they cannot succeed in confining ‘greening’ to the second pillar, and look at ways of ensuring that greening pillar 1 is done with least damage to farming competitiveness? Scottish Ministers have made it clear they would like to see greening applied to pillar 1 also.

It is clear that some of our ELS prescriptions in England would not go beyond what is to required in pillar 1, and the same is true of many of the other agri-environment prescriptions analysed throughout EU in a recent report by IEEP.

Perhaps the time has now come to accept that these measures will have to be paid for under pillar 1 as part of the greening payment, for it is very difficult to see how a case could be made for an additional payment for some of these measures under pillar 2. If these were now transferred to pillar 1, that would give some substance and form to the Commission proposals while allowing member states to keep a range of measures adapted to their different farm situations.

Other measures, going beyond the requirements of the greening payment, could still be used to meet the minimum area but qualify for supplementary payment under pillar 2. This would free some of the pillar 2 budget for other measures, such as HLS for which current budgets will not suffice without continuing modulation.

It seems to be widely accepted in the Parliament, even in DG Agri, that the EFA will be negotiated down from 7% to a more realistic 4 or 5% . If some part of this were made tradeable – say 2% or half of the 4% total EFA, as set-aside was in the early years, then the benefits the commission seeks could still be secured EU-wide, on all types of farm, but without significant damage to the most competitive farming businesses on good soils.


08 May 2012


Peter Fane


Principal Consultant on agriculture and rural development at Eurinco, former Director of the British Agricultural Bureau in Brussels