The rapporteur Nicola Caputo (Italy): “Europe must change its approach to agricultural policies. It is imperative to ensure the economic sustainability of farms."
While protests from the agricultural world are taking place in Brussels and throughout Europe, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has urged the European Union to review how it allocates funds to farmers in order to better protect them from the escalating risks of extreme weather, market fluctuations, and global crises.
The CoR's recommendations stem from the concern that EU policy is failing to do enough to contain the number of EU farmers abandoning their livelihoods in recent years.
The opinion - on “The risk management and market regulation tools to strengthen the sustainability of European agriculture" - was drafted by Nicola Caputo (IT/Renew), Minister for Agriculture of the Campania Region (Italy), and was adopted by unanimity by CoR members during their first plenary session of 2024, on 31 January.
The report identifies possible improvements in risk management tools and in crisis reserve mechanism, which is part of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It particularly emphasises the importance of tailored allocation criteria for EU funds and the promotion of robust insurance products to protect farmers from the financial shocks of epidemics, conflicts and other crises and to bolster the agricultural sector's resilience.
The proposals adopted by the Committee:
- Put more focus on addressing the climate and energy crises and their social impact on local communities, regions, provinces and municipalities, on building resilient communities and on strengthening the territorial cohesion of the EU;
- establish a European system for mapping risks of systemic extreme weather events, completing the Joint Research Centre work;
- introduce targeted and preemptive measures geared to the needs and level of vulnerability of individual areas;
- call on the European Commission to make a more efficient use of crisis reserve funds, advocating for a mechanism to leverage available resources to provide robust and practical responses to help farms overcome the difficulties resulting from the changes in the environment in which they operate;urge EU institutions and Member States to ensure that regions and local authorities have the resources to enable effective action in relation to the specific insurance, financial and mutual-fund needs of individual regions;
- urge EU institutions and Member States to ensure that regions and local authorities have the resources to enable effective action in relation to the specific insurance, financial and mutual-fund needs of individual regions;
- address climate response tools in the strategic dialogue on agriculture.
The rapporteur Nicolas Caputo (IT/Renew), regional Minister for Agriculture of the Campania region, said: "Europe must change its approach to agricultural policies. If not, the future of our farmers will be at risk. An innovative approach is needed. It is imperative to ensure the economic sustainability of farms. Not doing so would mean failing the fundamental principles of the Green Deal, as well as the Farm to Fork strategy. We need innovation, technology, investment and the creation of a third social pillar in the future CAP to protect farm workers, as advocated by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. Fighting climate change, protecting workers and stabilising agricultural incomes must go together."
- According to latest data from Eurostat, the EU lost 5.1 million farms (37%) between 2005 and 2020. According to the new European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janusz Wojciechowski, there could be up to 1,000 farmers losing their farms per day across the EU.
- The Strategic Dialogue on the CAP was launched in January 25. Discussions will take place every 4 to 6 weeks until September 2024.
- Article 76 of the Regulation on CAP strategic plans of the CAP 2023-27 gives Member States the possibility to grant support for risk management tools and specify the conditions for this support in their CAP Strategic Plans.
- The report on the final outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe sets an objective of "safe, sustainable, just, climate responsible, and affordable production of food, respecting sustainability principles, the environment, safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems, while ensuring food security".
- Short-term outlook report for EU agricultural markets.
- Study of the European Parliament's AGRI Committee on "The impact of extreme climate events on agricultural production in the EU.
- Revised guidelines for State aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas
- CoR opinion on the "Reform of the CAP" (2018).
- CoR opinion on the "Future EU state aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas" (2021).
- CoR draft opinion on the future of the CAP (2024).
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