25 recommendations for a greener European agricultural policy
In the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will take effect after 2022, the European Commission wants Member States to determine how they want to achieve green goals. This year the Netherlands must draw up a National Strategic Plan for the implementation of the CAP. Researchers from Wageningen Environmental Research have outlined the options for climate, environment and biodiversity (the so-called green-blue goals). Their report was presented to the House of Representatives by Minister Schouten.
Farmers in the European Union receive income support from the CAP. The last reform in 2013 stipulated that farmers who wish to receive income support are obliged to make green investments. But Member States criticized implementation procedures of the CAP and there were doubts about the effectiveness of the green investments. The European Commission has subsequently decided to allow Member States to determine how they want to achieve green targets in the new CAP.
Each member state draws up a National Strategic Plan, stating how it will implement the CAP. The Netherlands must submit its plan this year. The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality has asked Wageningen Environmental Research to analyze how the strategic plan can best be implemented for green-blue goals.
An assessment framework is needed to know whether the measures in the plan are sufficient to achieve the goals. Researcher Robert Baayen: “The assessment framework is the line along which the Netherlands can take measures to determine whether these actually contribute to the objectives set for climate, environment (water, soil and air), biodiversity and landscape. We looked at what the green-blue goals are, what the priority of each goal is, how available measures can contribute to the realization and which indicators can be used for this. ” This assessment framework will soon be able to determine the effectiveness of the National Strategic Plan on green-blue aspects.
The researchers have drawn up a list of 25 recommendations. They advise, among other things, to implement measures regionally as much as possible in consultation with the sector and to make the package of measures that are effective and attractive for farmers. Other advices are:
- Make the requirements for income support sufficiently ambitious.
- Compensate for rising water levels in peatlands and nitrogen measures around Natura 2000 areas via the CAP.
- Where possible, opt for measures that are easily verifiable by, for example, satellites.
- Where possible, use evidence-based data about the effectiveness of measures.
- Use target effectiveness as the primary criterion for the selection of eligible actions.
Furthermore, the new eco-scheme to be introduced offers the possibility, in addition to the fixed income support, to directly reward farmers’ performance. Farmers who, for example, realize landscape elements receive compensation for this. “We recommend using a points system, whereby the compensation for the efforts is higher than just the costs that are incurred or income that the farmer misses out on,” says researcher Anne van Doorn. “This system suddenly creates a revenue model for, for example, realizing hedgerows. This can really be an important step to counteract the deterioration of the Dutch landscape.”
The full report with all recommendations can be downloaded here.
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