Agri MEPs support Hogan’s plans to simplify CAP

Commissioner Phil Hogan
Commissioner Phil Hogan
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Members of the EU Agriculture committee have welcomed plans to simplify the EU farm policy and called on Commissioner Hogan to come up with new actions to help milk farmers.

MEPs also voiced concerns over uneven implementation of greening measures which are due to come into force next year and called on Mr Hogan to do more to tackle effects of the Russian ban on EU farmers.

Simplification of the EU farm policy will be “the top priority” for the Commission, newly appointed Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan told the Agriculture committee. He informed MEPs about launching “the comprehensive screening exercise” to “identify which areas and elements can be simplified” and promised that he was “committed to deliver within a year of my mandate”.

Members of the Agriculture committee welcomed Commissioner’s quest for simplification of rules governing the EU farm policy. But several MEPs voiced concerns over the implementation of the greening component of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform claiming that the lack of clarity on the ground might increase the number of errors and bring about unequal implementation of the CAP among member states.

“Farmers do not know how CAP reform will be implemented” and “there are some inherent risks” that the reform “will not be implemented properly”, warned Albert Dess (EPP, DE) asking Commissioner Hogan to clarify how he intends to avoid problems on the ground.

Jens Rohde (ALDE, DK) also voiced disappointment over the refusal of Commissioner Hogan to postpone the greening element of the CAP reform and thus avoid confusion on the ground.

“We are about to create a red tape monster in the greening of the agricultural sector and we are about to enlarge the unequal implementation of legislation among member states,” he warned asking Commissioner to come up with a plan to avoid this.

The proposals on simplification of the CAP were not concrete enough, claimed Martin Hausling (Greens/EFA, DE), who asked Commissioner Hogan for more specific details. He also criticised MEPs who demanded postponement of the greening measures.

“I have a feeling that there are members in bigger groups who voted in favour of the CAP reform who think that they will get rid of greening through simplification”, he said.

Many members of the Agriculture committee also raised concerns about the milk price volatility and asked Commissioner Hogan to do more to stabilise the dairy sector.

“The situation in the milk sector is worrying and it is likely to deteriorate further in coming weeks”, said Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT).

“We need to work towards a soft landing (...) we would like to hear some fresh ideas (...) and new instruments to try to combat the market volatility,” he said offering Commissioner an assistance of the committee in an effort to try to help milk farmers.

“One of the greatest problems facing the agriculture in Europe at the moment is the crisis in the dairy sector”, James Nicholson (ECR, UK) said calling on the Commissioner to “increase the intervention price” to “help to bottom up the market” since “the current rate is totally unrealistic”.

“Please do not fall into the trap as previous Commissions have done by believing that all will be solved next spring” or “the autumn next year. I can tell you now dairy farmers will be out of business and hit the wall before next autumn,” he warned.

Lidia Senra Rodriguez (GUE/NGL, ES) called on Commissioner Hogan to review the provisions of the common market organisation.

“We have the milk problem (...) and this is not only the result of the Russian embargo, it is the result of the abandonment of the quotas and the fact that we therefore have much more production”, she claimed.

MEPs also discussed with Commissioner Hogan other issues, including legislative proposals that are being currently scrutinised by the Agriculture committee, e.g. on organic production and labelling.

There is no need for change of organic rules in the UK, John Stuart Agnew (EFDD, UK) said.

“This is a sector that has grown up (...) it has a small market of about four per cent and the rules are there, they are adhered to by the organic farmers. We all have to live under one sky and I am not happy at all about the proposals”, he said.

Other member of the committee also raised the issue of the Russian ban on imports of EU agricultural products and asked Commissioner Hogan to monitor the situation closely, be prepared to come up with new measures and provide more financial support for farmers hit by the embargo.