Farmers organisations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have agreed on a joint position of the future of Common Agricultural Policy of the EU. Agricultural organisations of Baltic States are requesting strong, fair and simpler Common Agricultural Policy.
The objectives of Common Agricultural Policy are still very relevant and must be maintained. Unfortunately, management of Common Agricultural Policy (hereinafter CAP) was disappointing for the most of our countries in the past period. CAP imposes additional costs and excessive administrative burden on farmers. Legislation is more and more complicated and less understandable. CAP has not brought a new system of distribution of funds and instead, tolerates a system based on historical reference data. We need stronger, more equal, and simpler CAP based on the principles, as follows:
Fair and equal competition conditions for farmers in all EU Member States
It is necessary to ensure fair competition conditions and equal direct payments in all EU countries, eliminating differences (based on historical references) of direct payment support between the EU Member States. The common argument that the farmers in the states that receive the lowest payments, face reduced costs due to human resources, energy and other production costs, is incorrect.
Maintaining a strong CAP budget, providing funding for both the first and second pillars of the CAP
Direct payments support farmers’ income levels and are an important safeguard in cases of market volatility and crises. The second pillar – rural development funds – is critical to increase the quality of life in rural areas. The two-pillar system ensures a balance between direct support for farmers and promotion of rural development. Additionally, environmental measures under the second pillar enable to support active farmers.
Common rules, implementing and financing of CAP
Common rules, unvaried implementing and common financing are fundamental to secure a well-functioning Single Market and prevent distortion of competition whilst taking into account the diversity of European agriculture. In this context, any renationalisation of the CAP is unacceptable. New CAP programming period has to contribute to balanced territorial development and production in all rural areas.
Price volatility, climate change and consequences of political decisions (i.e. Russian embargo, Brexit) have severe impact on farm income and creates insecurity, therefore we need instruments in EU level to tackle these risks. Risk management measures should be flexible and quickly available and fast to implement, and there should exist a possibility of implementing safety net at regional level.
We propose to adopt a risk management fund, which would cover the damages agricultural entities experience due to market volatility, natural disasters and political decisions. Risk management fund should be used to support the most affected countries and agricultural sectors. Farmers would receive assistance in the cases when their income does not reach the established benchmark income.
Currently 30% of direct payments are linked to Greening requirements focused on soil quality, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration. As result of greening regulation, the CAP has become much more complicated and bureaucratic at farm level. To facilitate a real simplification of the CAP and achieve better environmental benefits Member States should get more flexibility in implementing greening requirements or instead of greening in implementing (multiannual) agri-environmental programmes.
Implementing greening requirements local environmental conditions in particular Member States have to be taken into account. Exceptions in the case of predominantly forested Member States should be revised so that also swamps, bogs and other wooded land is included under forest definition. More flexibility should be given implementing the obligation of maintenance of permanent grassland in order to enable farmers to keep market orientation and react to changes on markets.
Areas with national constraints
Additional support for the areas with natural constraints is a necessary tool for balanced EU territorial development, but it has to be financed properly. We see two options for financing the ANC payments: in calculation of Rural Development envelope for a Member State the ANC area of that Member State should be considered, or alternatively, an EU level budget for ANC should be created, which would be distributed to Member States according their ANC area.
„Capping“ of direct payments
We refuse capping and degressivity of direct payments according to farm size or the amount of support.
Coupled payments must continue under precise and limited conditions to support sectors, especially livestock production.
Support for new technologies, innovation and precision farming
Support for new technologies, innovation and precision farming is necessary to improve the sector’s performance. Precision farming should have more attention and better support within environmental measures, as this is especially effective method of implementation of the principle to produce more with less resources, avoiding overuse of fertilizers and nutrient leaks. Precision farming should be considered as green by default.
CAP reached the level at which it is not understandable nor for farmers, nor for society. Rules and standards have to be realistic and feasible. We require more transparent and radically simplified system of providing supports, and reduction of administrative burden on institutions administrating supports financed or co-financed from EU sources, but mainly reduction of administrative burden on applicants / beneficiaries.
Support for co-operatives
Support for establishment of cooperatives / producer groups is especially necessary in those member states with low level of cooperation. This requires additional sources within rural development policy and investment incentives for agricultural cooperatives and producer groups. It is necessary to support existing cooperatives / producer groups in their growth and association. We propose to consider support for establishment of cross-border cooperatives / producer groups.
Fair functioning of the food chain
We require adopting a new policy to ensure a sustainable farming sector, fair price for farm products, on time payments and rules against unfair trade practices of market chains at the EU level. In order to improve food chain functioning it is necessary to monitor more precisely the level of competition, strengthen negotiating power of farmers, promote fair and transparent price formation, which should not be lower than the production costs and should not be lower than the price common in the country of origin.
Finding new markets and promotion
We support allocating more funds to promotion and marketing measures that develop new marketing channels to the third countries for EU agricultural production. This would lead to better prices for all producers – those exporting to the third countries, and those selling primarily within single market. We need regional balance of distribution of EU promotion policy funds.
Equal standards for imported products
We require applicability of equal food standards, animal welfare and other EU requirements to all food coming from third countries.
Ensuring the generational change in agriculture
There have to be developed specific and focused financial and organisational mechanisms that would support young farmers in setting-up or develop their businesses, as well as measures for new stakeholders in the sector of agriculture, who no longer meet the “young farmer” definition.
 The CAP persistently implementing the objectives set in Article 39 (1) of the Lisbon Treaty (Rome), must:
a. increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress
b. ensure the rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular labour
c. ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, in particular by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture
d. assure the availability of supplies, and ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices.
e. stabilise markets