Farmers with small and medium-sized holdings need to have a chance to develop and eco schemes in CAP strategic plans need to be accessible for them, European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski has said.

The strategic plans are the final shape of the CAP reform and once submitted to the Commission, it will present its initial observations on the strategic plans, the Commissioner said.

“We will have the chance to assess individual strategic plans but also to compare the level of effort and level of ambition between member states.

“The Common Agricultural Policy is by definition common, that’s a crucial fact. I think we have common goals and they are also reflected in the legislative acts. We agree on the fact that the CAP should be more just. This means including the small and medium-sized farms more and more.

“Those that keep disappearing from our countries, a process that we need to stop. The small and medium-sized holdings have to have a chance to develop, not only on the basis of the CAP redistributive payment but also the accessibility of eco schemes and all the interventions that are provided in new CAP,” he told a European Parliament agriculture committee meeting on Thursday.

Opposed to restrictions

Commissioner Wojciechowski said he would oppose any attempts to restrict small and medium-sized farmers accessing schemes.

“The strategic plans need to include measures that are generally accessible. I will oppose attempts in the strategic plans, if we see such attempts to limit beneficiaries’ access.

“It’s always supposed to be based on general access to the programmes. I will oppose any attempts to restrict access for small and medium-sized farms,” he said.

Greener CAP

The new CAP should also be greener, so we included elements of the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy, the Commissioner said.

“It is very important to underline that these are political goals, these are not legal goals, not legally binding goals, but I am deeply convinced that the member states will engage with this topic in their strategic plans and will introduce these elements. Because the Green Deal is not just an idea of the European Commission, even though it was initiated by the Commission like the strategies.

“It is a joint effort of the entire EU. This needs to be reflected in strategic plans as incentives.”

We need to encourage farmers to actually implement these ambitious goals

The Commissioner said that it was important to note that the Commission does “not have instruments, except for conditionality in the strategic plans, to actually force” farmers to take up measures to achieve the goals of the aforementioned strategies.

“We need to incentivise [farmers], we need to encourage them to actually implement these ambitious goals, which means there needs to be appropriate offer for them in the strategic plan.

“What’s so important about strategic plans? First of all that they are actually strategic, they shouldn’t just be administrative documents, not just technical documents, not just a plain description of the future interventions. There needs to be a strategy visible in the plans,” he said.