‘Greening’ of direct payments is at the heart of the debate on the future of the CAP post-2013. In recent weeks, some of the major EU member states, including the UK have voiced concern at the ‘one size fits all’ approach proposed by the Commission.
In order to address those concerns, these member states have signed up to a paper which considers three alternative approaches to greening. Member states would be required to select an option and implement it.
Option A essentially top slices money from direct payments and transfers it into the rural development pot. Member states would have to ring-fence this money to spend on agri-environment schemes.
Option B categorises farmers into ‘green by definition’ and ‘other farmers’. A farmer may be classed as the former if, for example, he/she participates in an agri-environment scheme, is an organic farmer or if he/she has more than 50% grassland or less than 15ha arable land. ‘Other’ farmers would be required to fulfil at least three greening requirements from a longer list of options. The longer list includes existing Commission proposals, but also some ‘win-wins’, such as nutrient and soil management plans.
Option C is essentially greening through cross-compliance. The greening measures would become cross-compliance measures and there would be no separate greening payment.