CAP deadlines may be extended

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EU Farm Commissioner Phil Hogan has announced that he will consider extending the period for submission of applications under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The current closing date is May 15th. This follows requests from a number of member states, seeking such measures to be introduced.

It is crucially important for young producers to remain focussed on collating the information they need for the new support measure. And this should be done as quickly as possible

Martyn Blair, YFCU president

A further update on the matter is expected from Brussels within days.

Dublin’s Farm Minister Simon Coveney has already welcomed this development.

“An additional period will take some of the pressure off farmers who are coming to grips with the extensive changes in the CAP,” he said.

“We have asked for early clarification of the new application deadlines and that this extension should apply to Pillar I and to Pillar II schemes.”

Reacting to Phil Hogan’s announcement Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) President Martyn Blair said that he welcomed this initiative, up to a point.

“My sole interest lies in the successful implementation of the new young farmer support scheme,” he added.

“It is crucially important for young producers to remain focussed on collating the information they need for the new support measure. And this should be done as quickly as possible. The last thing they need is to get too relaxed. So, yes, I welcome the view expressed by Phil Hogan this week. But, in my view, the application deadline should be put back by no more than one month.”

Hogan’s announcement was made against the backdrop of the March agriculture council meeting in Brussels, held on Monday past, which saw farm ministers discuss the proposed simplification of the CAP and the future prospects for milk.

From a CAP reform perspective, the most important Pillar 1 issues highlighted were the ‘greening’ measures and their associated controls. The farm ministers hope to agree Council conclusions on these matters in May of this year.

However, some of the issues raised by the member states require urgent attention as rules will have to apply on the ground already this spring. There are some areas where simplification might be possible through minor amendments to the existing provisions established by the Commission.Where milk is concerned, the Commission provided its latest thinking on potential market developments post the ending of quotas in less than a fortnight’s time. Many member states expressed concerns, but some considered that the sector should be able to adapt to the change by using instruments already available within the framework of direct payments and rural development.

Others pointed out that price volatility could have a significant effect on milk producers, and that the Commission would therefore have to monitor the situation very closely through the Milk Market Observatory and put forward appropriate proposals to address the issue if necessary.

Speaking on behalf of the EU Presidency, Latvia’s Farm Minister Jānis Dūklavs said: “The milk market will have to be monitored closely to assess how the abolition of dairy quotas will affect the sector. The Presidency will continue to encourage discussions in the Council in order to give appropriate guidance to the Commission on necessary measures.”