UK environment minister Liz Truss demonstrated the full extent of her commitment to protecting the environment when she demanded an overhaul of the CAP greening conditions from Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan on July 20.
While on a ministerial visit to the Royal Welsh agricultural show, Truss told the commissioner that there remained “…still more to do to reduce the burdens of the current scheme.”
Her wishlist included more flexibility for member states to interpret EU guidance to reflect “national circumstances”; allowing geo-tagged photographs and satellite pictures to check on farmers’ compliance; fewer and simpler farm inspections for compliance on Ecological Focus Areas and other aspects of the CAP; a review of greening and an end to the three-crop requirement.
She also urged a lighter hand in the implementation of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), to ensure that farmers were less likely to face penalties for minor errors. The minister declared that food and farming in the UK are: “…being held back by overly complicated and bureaucratic rules within the Common Agricultural Policy.”
Truss explained: “That’s why I am continuing to push the Commissioner to look at further ways to simplify the regulations, including reducing the number of farm inspections.” Commissioner Hogan has already adopted some UK suggestions in his simplification proposals: these include greater flexibility in deciding which hedgerows can be used to meet greening standards and removing the need for detailed maps to show landscape features that are not part of an EFA.
As the links below demonstrate, this is quite typical of many of the relevant Ministers across the EU: the green aspects of CAP greening are, it seems, more honoured in the breach than in the observance.
The Great Greening Scan (2013)