Last week, Spanish Agricultural Minister Arias Cañete supported the limitation of aid to a maximum area that will not reduce the amount of aid received by farmers.
He noted that there is great variation among the current 21,000 million hectares and 38,000 million that could be considered eligible in 2014, according to the proposal from the European Commission. This would lead to “a disproportionate reduction of the aid for Spain” becoming the lowest in the EU, i.e. 126 Euros per hectare, far from the average of 246 euros per hectare.
His impression from the Council of EU Ministers was positive stating that “progress was made” at the meeting. He also considers that the Irish Presidency proposal is “reasonable” hoping that will reach a good agreement in March.
On the other hand, the Spanish Minister said that although he sees acceptable progress toward a redistribution of direct payments between farmers, “the aim of achieving a uniform average value for 2019 may have dire consequences for our agriculture.”
More specifically, to the question whether a flat rate per hectare could produce distortions in the levels of support for major crops and financial flows from one area to another, from one production to the other, from one farmer to the other, Arias Cañete has argued the need to introduce elements of flexibility and modulation that may limit the scope of the Commission’s proposals.
According to his calculations, the “flat rate” proposed by the Commission may involve loss of aid of 50% in the olive sector, a third in the dairy sector, “already in a difficult situation”, and more than 75% in industrial crops.