‘Green sub­si­dies not helping en­vi­ron­ment’

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE -

EU au­di­tors have said “green” farm sub­si­dies have lit­tle en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fect.

The EU in­tro­duced the pay­ments in 2013 un­der the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy, to en­cour­age farm­ers to di­ver­sify crops, main­tain per­ma­nent grass­land and set aside a per­cent­age of land for na­ture con­ser­va­tion.

But the bloc’s au­di­tors said in a re­port last week that the sys­tem was overly com­plex and had led to changes on only 5pc of EU farm­land.

“Green­ing re­mains es­sen­tially an in­come sup­port scheme,” said EU au­di­tor Samo Jereb, who over­saw the re­port.

“As cur­rently im­ple­mented, it is un­likely to en­hance the CAP’s en­vi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate per­for­mance sig­nif­i­cantly.”

Green­ing pay­ments make up a third of CAP sub­si­dies, and add up to around €12 bil­lion a year, or around €80 a hectare.

The EU’s Lux­em­bourg-based court of au­di­tors said that the pay­ments over­lapped with other en­vi­ron­men­tal re­quire­ments un­der the CAP.

They said farm­ers should have to com­ply with ba­sic en­vi­ron­men­tal rules and per­for­mance tar­gets to get CAP money, with penal­ties for those who fail.

The Com­mis­sion has be­gun a top-to-toe over­haul of the CAP ahead of the talks on the EU’s new long-term bud­get, which are due to be­gin next May.

Re­cently, the bloc ad­mit­ted green­ing pay­ments were its “most bur­den­some and com­plex el­e­ment”.

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