The European Green Deal (EZ³), or Communication COM(2019)640 of December 11, 2019, introduced a number of policies to transform the EU economy into a more modern, resource-efficient and competitive one. According to the objectives:

  • EU in 2050. Will achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions;
  • there will be a decoupling of economic growth from resource consumption;
  • No person or region will be left behind compared to others.

The European Green Deal has indicated that the Common Agricultural Policy’s Strategic Plans for 2023-2027 (CAP SP 2023-2027) will need to reflect more ambitious goals, including a significant reduction in the use of chemical pesticides and their risks, as well as the use of fertilizers and antibiotics.

As a result of protests by European farmers, the European Commission on March 15, 2024. has published a draft amendment to two regulations related to the implementation of the European Green Deal policies under the CAP SP for 2023-2027. Specifically, the EC is proposing to abolish the 4 percent set-aside. arable land, the choice between diversification and rotation, simplifications in soil cover and changes in conditionality-related sanctions.

Conditionality under the CAP

Conditionality under the 2023-2027 CAP SP is an enhancement of existing cross-compliance and greening. Makes receipt of full support under direct payments conditional on meeting standards and requirements covering areas:

  • climate and environment;
  • public health;
  • plant health;
  • animal welfare.

This is also the basis for determining the requirements for additional paid voluntary activities undertaken by the farmer. Conditionality includes Good Agricultural Environmental Condition (GAEC) standards and Stewardship Baseline Requirements (SMRs).

European Green Deal – farms up to 10 hectares of UR will not be subject to sanctions

Announced on March 15, 2024. The proposals indicate that farms with up to 10 hectares of agricultural land will not be subject to sanctions related to the implementation of environmental standards (so-called conditionality), which in practice means that they will be completely exempt from these requirements.

Abolition of fallow 4 percent. Arable land – the so-called. GAEC 8 standard

Farmers as early as 2024. They will not have to compulsorily set aside 4 percent. arable land. In practice, this means that farmers will be encouraged to maintain non-productive areas, but without the risk of losing income.

Currently, according to GAEC 8, farmers are required to:

  1. Preservation of landscape elements (obligation to preserve trees – nature monuments, ponds of up to 100m2, ditches up to 2 m wide);
  2. to observe the prohibition of pruning hedges and trees during the bird breeding season and the period of rearing young (does not apply to fruit trees, willows and short-rotation coppice);
  3. To guarantee a minimum share of at least 4 percent. arable land at the farm level, into non-productive areas and elements, including fallow land.

The ability to choose between diversification and alternation – the so-called “diversification”. GAEC 7 standard

The Commission proposes that starting as early as 2024. Farmers could have had a choice, i.e. Or:

  • Use crop diversification (i.e., different crops). For farms with an area:
    • from 10 to 30 hectares of arable land is enough to have 2 crops, except that the largest crop cannot account for more than 75 percent;
    • over 30 hectares of arable land is enough to have 3 crops, except that the largest crop cannot account for more than 75 percent, and two in total cannot exceed 95 percent;
  • Rotation (i.e., a specific succession of plant crops).

Currently, under GAEC 7, farms with more than 10 hectares of arable land (there are exemptions) are required to:

  1. cultivation of an area of at least 40 percent. arable land in such a way that each agricultural plot, compared to the previous year, has a different main crop;
  2. to grow at least 3 different crops on arable land. The main crop must not occupy more than 65 percent. arable land, and the two main crops combined must not occupy more than 90 percent. arable land.

Changes to the standard for. The obligation to maintain soil cover – the so-called. GAEC 6 standard

The EC, in response to farmers’ expectations, has proposed that each member state should be free to decide at what time of the year it will establish soil cover maintenance obligations, making it easier for farmers to carry out certain agrotechnical treatments in a timely manner.

Currently, according to GAEC 6, in an area representing at least 80 percent. arable land, which is part of a farm, must be maintained with a protective soil cover (including but not limited to: crop cover: winter crops, grasses on arable land, winter intercrops; stubble; land covered with crop residues or mulch) from November 1 to February 15.

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