Minister Leppä on the Commission’s CAP proposals: Northern conditions have been duly taken into account but the cuts cannot be accepted
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland Jari Leppä cannot accept the Commission’s proposal for the future CAP in terms of the support payments. Finland has already launched a collaborative effort with several EU countries to prevent the reductions. Instead, Minister Leppä is satisfied with the way the northern conditions have been taken into account. This ensures that agricultural activities will continue in the northern regions, including Finland.
“In the proposal more flexibility is offered to Member States, and one of the key targets for the next period is simplification of the common agricultural policy. I have repeatedly stressed these two issues in talks with the Commission”, Minister Leppä says. “Some of this work can now be seen in the draft proposals published today. However, there is a lot to be done in order that the ideas in the Commission Communication will be put to practice.”
The draft regulations also contain proposals for the funding to be allocated to Member States for direct payments and rural development, even if the financial framework has not yet been discussed or negotiated between Member States and the Commission. For Finland the proposal would mean EUR 420 million less funding compared to the EU funds for the current period. Of these cuts more than EUR 80 million would be targeted to direct payments to agriculture and more than EUR 330 million to rural development funds.
“In view of the profitability problems faced by farmers Finland cannot accept the proposal as far as funding is concerned. Finnish farms still suffer from the closing of the Russian markets and significant losses during the previous crop season. The quite dramatic cuts to rural development funding proposed by the Commission are also against the ambitious targets set for the agricultural policy. Combatting climate change, rural development and promoting animal welfare will suffer if such cuts will be made”, Leppä says.
On 31 May Finland, led by State Secretary Jari Partanen deputising for Minister Leppä, participated in a meeting in Madrid where Finland together with certain other Member States, including France, Spain and Ireland, decided on a collaborative effort to prevent the cuts. Minister Leppä continues the work to influence the future preparation next Monday at the Informal Agriculture Council in Bulgaria.
The new environmental requirements included in the producer support may bring additional obligations to farming practices compared to the present situation.
Minister Leppä stresses that the funding and requirements must be in balance. “This is why I have great reservations as to the Commission proposal concerning any additional requirements if the funding available for the measures is reduced at the same time. Our special characteristics due to the northern location must be taken into account in environmental measures.”
The draft regulations also contain certain positive elements in terms of northern agriculture. The northern conditions are taken into account by continuing the natural handicap payments for less-favoured areas and allowing the coupled payments that enable agriculture to continue in Finland.
“In these respects I am satisfied with the proposal, as it means that the obvious need to support regions with the most adverse natural conditions we keep talking about has been understood. It should be fully clear that on a common market a balancing mechanism is needed to maintain and develop high-quality production appreciated by the consumers in areas where the production costs are high”, Minister Leppä says.
Risto Lahti, Special Adviser to the Minister, +358 50 565 0424
Kari Valonen, Head of EU Coordination and International Affairs, +358 295 162 269