A report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA) released on 12th December has indicated that greening payments are not leading to environmental improvements. This will not come as much of a surprise to farmers, but it is leading to calls for a radical reform of the way state support is granted to farmers in the UK after Brexit. Apparently, the greening subsidies cost the EU around 20% of the CAP, but only 5% of EU farmland is made “more ecologically friendly” as a result.
The ECA comments include such damning statements as: “Greening lacks a fully developed intervention logic with clearly defined, ambitious targets and its budget is not directly linked to the policy’s delivery of environmental and climate-related objectives”.
They go on to say: “Greening as currently implemented is unlikely to provide significant benefits for the environment and climate. Greening has led to very limited change in farming practices, which illustrates the significant deadweight in the policy’s design”.
Interestingly, they also state that crop diversification is less beneficial for soil than crop rotation.
There is too much flexibility in greening rules which limits the burden on farmers and on Member States. However, this in turn reduces the expected environmental and climate benefit.
They conclude that the policy’s likely results do not justify the significant complexity which the greening policy adds to the CAP.
Mr Gove will no doubt be taking much note of this type of commentary. He will not want such a negative critique of his eventual agricultural and environmental policy when it is finally unveiled. Expect much radical environmentalism after April 2019.
For further information, please contact Charles Holt at email@example.com or your local FCG office.