Set-aside and crop rotation for fields: Brussels wants to suspend duty

This is a topical article:

Common agricultural policy


Grain harvest: With the one-time suspension of the obligation to set aside and the rules for crop rotation, the EU Commission expects that 1.5 million hectares across Europe will again be used for the cultivation of grain.

Simon Michel-Berger, agrarheute

On Friday, 22.07.2022 – 22:18

The EU should make a greater contribution to avoiding global food shortages. The European Commission is therefore proposing to suspend the set-aside obligation and the rules for crop rotation in 2023.
The European Commission is proposing to suspend the obligation to set aside arable land (except for the cultivation of maize and soya or for short-rotation plantations) and the crop rotation rules (GAEC 7 and 8) in the application year 2023 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This was announced by the Brussels authorities on July 22nd.
Why does the Commission want to suspend the set-aside obligation and crop rotation rules?
The EU Commission explains that the temporary suspension of the obligation to set aside arable land and the rules for crop rotation will free up a total of around 1.5 million hectares for the cultivation of grain. That would help mitigate the uncertainties in the global food system as a result of the war in Ukraine. A press release from the authority states: "Every tonne of grain produced in the EU helps to secure the world's food supply."
How does the proposal on set-aside and crop rotation affect the environment?
The Commission points out that the proposal on set-aside and crop rotation is the result of a careful balance between the availability and affordability of food on the one hand and the protection of biodiversity and soil quality on the other. Furthermore, the authority is committed to the goals of the Green Deal. These include a ban on plant protection in Natura 2000 areas.
Will the proposal to suspend set-aside and crop rotation be implemented?
Before the proposal is implemented, the EU Commission will officially notify the EU states. Broad support from these is considered extremely likely – it had already become clear at the beginning of the week at the EU Agricultural Council that a majority of EU countries welcomed the suspension of crop rotation and set-aside. In a press release dated July 22, the CDU European politicians Norbert Lins and Peter Jahr also signaled their support. The CSU MEP Marlene Mortler reacted similarly. However, the proposal will not be implemented automatically in all EU countries: the individual countries must actively choose to take advantage of the opportunity.
Are there any conditions attached to the suspension of crop rotations and set-aside?
As the EU Commission emphasizes, EU countries that use the option of suspending crop rotation and set-aside rules must place particular emphasis on agri-environmental measures and eco-schemes in their CAP strategic plans. The long-term sustainability of the food system is fundamental to security of supply. The Legislative Plans Farm-to-Fork, Biodiversity Strategy and Nature Restoration Act would be pursued.
What will Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir do?
In a press release, Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir said: "My ministry will now examine today's decision by the Commission and the framework conditions for national implementation and discuss it with the departments, federal states and stakeholders. We will make pragmatic decisions and carefully assess the benefits and costs beforehand. As the Commission emphasizes, sustainability and food security are two sides of the same coin, and there will be no playing them off with me.” The ministry rates the one-time suspension of crop rotation rules as “manageable”. A break in the obligation to decommission, on the other hand, has “far-reaching consequences for biodiversity, which must be carefully considered”.

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