EU Member States have approved a series of measures proposed by the European Commission to increase aid to farmers affected by severe drought.
The Commission’s proposal, introduced with the dual aims of ensuring financial aid to farmers whose livelihoods have been impacted by the droughts sweeping Europe this summer and maintaining safe levels of feed for livestock, was approved by a committee of Member State representatives. The measures will boost farmers’ cash flow by enabling them to receive higher proportions of payments issued under the Common Agricultural Policy, while relaxing certain restrictions on sustainable land use to maximise feed output.
The proposed measures include:
- Offering farmers up to 70% of the direct payments they receive under the Common Agricultural Policy by the middle of October;
- Releasing up to 85% of the rural development payments issued to farmers as soon as the measures are formally adopted by Member States;
- Allowing farmers to sow fast-growing ‘catch crops’ as ‘pure crops’, rather than as part of a mixture as is currently directed under agricultural sustainability rules, if they are intended to be used for grazing or as a feed ingredient; and
- Treat land lying fallow as a distinct crop for funding purposes, even if it has already been grazed or harvested.
Agriculture and rural development Commissioner Phil Hogan said: “Since the beginning of the extreme climatic events, we have been closely following the situation and are ready to support our farmers. The Commission has been in close contact with all Member States throughout, and we have reacted swiftly when necessary. These measures should relieve European farmers financially and protect them against a shortage of fodder for their livestock.”
The Commission intends to remain in close contact with Member States to determine the national and regional impact of widespread droughts; its measures providing aid to farmers are expected to take effect by September.