Brussels is significantly weakening the set-aside scheme

14-02 | |
Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

The European Commission (EC) has approved an exemption scheme for the mandatory set aside of agricultural land. The conditions have been considerably weakened. Participants in the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) must set aside 4% of arable land to receive a premium.

The EC previously proposed giving farmers the option to fill 7% of the area with nitrogen-fixing crops or catch crops instead of 4% of non-productive land, with a weighting factor of 0.3. This alternative has now been reduced. Instead of setting aside 4% of the area, an entrepreneur may also choose to grow 4% nitrogen-fixing crops or catch crops without the use of crop protection products, with the weighting factor being 1. This makes the alternative a lot more attractive. A farmer with 100 hectares may now fulfil the fallow obligation with 4 hectares of catch crops, instead of 23.3 hectares of catch crops.

…only if we achieve our climate and environmental goals together will farmers be able to survive

Taking the pressure off farmers

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, emphasises that she wants to accommodate farmers with the scheme. “Only if our farmers can make a living from their land will they invest in the future. And only if we achieve our climate and environmental goals together will farmers be able to survive. Our farmers are well aware of this. This measure provides farmers with flexibility and continues to reward them for their vital work to boost food security and sustainability in the EU. We will soon come up with more proposals to alleviate the pressure our farmers are facing,” said committee chairman Von der Leyen about the relaxation.

Last year, the condition of mandatory set aside was completely abolished. The war in Ukraine was the reason.

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