CAP: from a culture of spending to a culture of performance

Decisive challenges for agriculture, such as food security, environmental sustainability, but also economic growth and employment are ahead. Europe needs for the future a strong Common agricultural policy able to support the socio-economic function of the agricultural sector, which remains essential say the agricultural, rural and forestry contractors in the annual meeting of their European umbrella organization, CEETTAR, held on Friday 15 June in Padua.

The Common agricultural policy is the spine of the political action of the European Union. Despite all the criticism, it has proved to be flexible to adapt to the changing context and keep strong the link between agriculture and the society. “It is of utmost importance that the European Union keeps on adapting with ambition this policy to the needs of the sector” said Klaus Pentzlin, President of CEETTAR. “The European institutions (Commission, Parliament & Council) have the responsibility to rebuild a common sense around the idea of Europe, and this cannot disregard agriculture.”

Delegates from all over Europe reviewed carefully the potential impact of the proposal submitted by the Commission on the 1st of June. Reduction of the budget, national strategic plans for pillar 1, new common objectives, business development in rural areas, lack of objectives for the forestry sector… the changes are as many challenges for contractors. The debates started in Padua will continue in the coming weeks.

Participants however were already unanimously and strongly against the proposed rules for the capping of the direct payment. The labor costs that have to be used to calculate the level of capping must equally take into account the costs of direct employment and indirect employment of the farm holding. Farmers working with agricultural contractors for economic and environmental efficiency should not be penalized. 

In addition, the agricultural, rural and forestry contractors are convinced that the successful implementation of a renewed CAP should be reply to the five following principles :

1. The objectives of the common agricultural policy should remain “common” and the appropriate budget earmarked;

2. The policy priorities and measures have to integrate all the stakeholders of the value chain of agriculture and forestry;

3. Taxpayers' money has to be efficiently spent and should address the challenges of an innovative, competitive and sustainable European agriculture;

4. Support to agriculture only makes sense if it is accompanied by a strong rural development policy;

5. The potential of the forest in both environmental and economic terms must be recognized in the future CAP in its rightful place.

“The CAP still has to achieve many objectives, but in a context of financial uncertainties, it should primarily focus on tangible results, as the agricultural contractors are proposing for years” commented Klaus Pentlzin. He added “The European Unions could i nthat way improve both the efficiency of the CAP and the competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture. We will continue to work  in that direction to get things right before the European elections of next year”.