THE EU’s executive is mulling over the introduction of capping direct payments for farmers at €60,000 per beneficiary per year and obligatory redistributive payments (from bigger to smaller and/or medium-sized farms), according to a leaked draft of the proposals on the future EU farm policy circulating this week.
The 95-page draft text on CAP support plans and rural development programmes is currently the subject of an internal consultation within the Commission services and is still subject to change.
At a time of unprecedented pressure on the Community budget and increased scrutiny of the CAP’s overall share, the Commission is pushing for a more balanced distribution of income support among farmers. As previously mooted in early leaked drafts of the CAP communication last autumn, DG AGRI officials float the idea of compulsory capping, with a maximum amount per beneficiary at €60,000 for a given calendar year.
Under the proposed legislation, Member States shall subtract the ‘salaries linked to an agricultural activity declared by the farmer, including taxes and social contributions related to employment’ and ‘the equivalent cost of regular and unpaid labour linked to an agricultural activity practiced by persons working on the farm concerned, who do not receive a salary (or who receive less remuneration than the amount normally paid for the services rendered) but are rewarded through the economic result of the farm business.’
To calculate the amounts, European capitals ‘shall use the average standard salaries linked to an agricultural activity at national or regional level multiplied by the number of annual work units declared by the farmer concerned.’
The draft proposal is due to be approved by the College of Commissioners on May 29th (in the margins of the Strasbourg European Parliament plenary session). The formal presentation of the plans is expected to take place tow or three days later (during the same week) – ahead of the Informal Farm Council in Sofia, Bulgaria (June 3rd to 5th), where the future CAP is up for discussion.
All eyes are now on Commission long-term budget plans – mapping out expenditure from 2021 to 2027 – due to be unveiled in early May. It is only at that point that we will have a sense of the shape and size of the farm budget post-2020.