EU to offer higher advance payments to farmers amid droughts

Written by Martin Banks on 3 August 2018 in News

The European Commission says it is significantly stepping up aid for Europe’s farmers this summer, as they grapple with the difficulties of extreme droughts. 

Dry field - Cologne | Photo credit: Press Association

On Thursday, the executive announced that farmers will be able to receive their direct and rural development payments in advance and will be granted more flexibility to use land that would normally not be used for production, in order to feed their animals. 
Announcing the proposal, European agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said, “I am very concerned about these prolonged climatic developments.”
The Irish official added, “I have been in contact with a number of ministers from affected countries to discuss the situation and get up-to-date assessments of its impact. The Commission, as always, is ready to support farmers affected by drought using a number of instruments, including higher advance payments, derogations from greening requirements and state aid.

“The common agricultural policy already provides a safety net for farmers who have to deal with unpredictable events. I am encouraging all member states to look into all possible actions and measures provided for in our legislation.” 

The Commission said that the ongoing and prolonged drought situation in several EU countries is having a “significant” impact on the production of arable crops, as well as animal feed which could also have an impact on animal welfare. 
The reduction in the level of animal feed is having a particular impact on the income of livestock farmers, as this will increase their input costs if there is a shortage of fodder later in the year. 
In addition to higher advance payments and derogations from specific greening requirements, existing support under the CAP can be used, including state aid, rural development investments and risk management instruments. 
The Commission said it is in contact with all member states to receive by 31 August updated information of the impact of the spring and summer drought on their farmers. 
Two specific decisions have been taken to help farmers deal with droughts, in addition to support under the existing common agricultural policy legislation.
They are:
- Higher advanced payments: farmers will be able to receive up to 70% of their direct payment and 85% of payments under rural development already as of mid-October 2018 instead of waiting until December to improve their cash flow situation;
- Derogations from specific greening requirements, namely crop diversification and ecological focus area rules on land lying fallow, to allow such land to be used for the production of animal feed. Consideration is also being given to the adoption of further derogations to greening to allow farmers more flexibility to produce fodder. These measures will be of particular benefit to livestock farmers.
Compensation for damage can also be granted without the need to notify the Commission. Member states may grant aid of up to €15,000 per farmer over three years.
About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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