Commissioner stands firm on greening issue

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Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan went on a charm offensive in Brussels.

He was appearing before both the Agriculture Committee and the Presidents of Europe’s farming unions in the same afternoon.

Just a few weeks into his new job, Commissioner Hogan outlined his plans for CAP simplification before Members of the European Parliament.

Mr Hogan committed to “reviewing the greening after the first year with a particular focus on the administrative burden for farmers and national administrations”.

But he dismissed requests from four prominent MEPs to delay greening’s planned 1 January start date, adding: “you can’t change something that hasn’t come into force yet”.

Mr Hogan later told that his view of CAP simplification centred on delivering the agreed policy objectives with the minimum of administrative burden.

Finally, the Commissioner joined the presidents of Europe’s farming unions, which the UFU were present, at COPA-COGECA praesidium meeting to discuss the upcoming challenges for the sector. Farming leaders called for urgent scrutiny of the greening measures so as to avoid heavy penalties in the early stages of the new regime.

Calls were also made for the Commission to speedily adopt outstanding rural development programmes with only days to go until the start of the new CAP rules.

National Emissions Ceilings concerning for agriculture

The EU’s farm lobby group Copa-Cogeca has written to President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, about the Commission’s proposed directive on national emissions ceilings.

The UK has been given an ammonia reduction target of 21% by 2030. This would be borne by the agricultural sector and would be very challenging to meet. As livestock and arable are the main sources of ammonia emissions, reductions of this magnitude would be almost impossible without significant changes to farming practices and a reduction in livestock numbers, as the limited technological alternatives currently available are not affordable to most farmers.

The letter from Copa-Cogeca’s presidents urges the Commission to revisit its calculation on the cost to the sector and also to consider the fact that the agricultural sector needs to grow during this period – both to feed a growing population and the help the EU recover from the financial crisis.

Medium term outlook positive for agricultural commodities

The European Commission has published a report highlighting positive medium term outlook.

Cereal prices are to be expected to remain above historical averages, but significantly below 2010 and 2012 peaks. Total meat consumption is trending downwards, with poultry the only sector where production and consumption is projected to increase.

EU dairy prospects remain particularly favourable in the longer term, due to growing world demand, despite price declines in the short term. EU Milk delivery is expected to grow to 158mt by 2024, (12mt more than 2012).