Bloomberg News

EU Agriculture Policy Should Be Simplified, Enforced, Defra Says

February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy needs to be simplified and checks should be put in place to ensure rules on “greening” are followed, the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

The European Commission’s CAP proposal calls for 7 percent of farmland to be crop-free, 30 percent of national agriculture budgets to go towards environmental programs, and will force farmers to diversify harvests, the commission said on Jan. 21. The policy, being debated by member states, is set to go into effect at the end of 2013. The rules will have to be enforced to be effective, said Defra’s Martin Nesbit, director for EU and international agriculture.

“If we’re asking the CAP to buy more public benefits, for example through greening, we need to be able to check that it’s happening,” Nesbit said today during a speech at the National Farmers Union conference in Birmingham, England. “We need to get rid of unnecessary complexity.”

European commissioners and members of parliament need to be aware that environmental programs outlined by the CAP may disrupt crop rotations and other farming decisions, Nesbit said.

“How disruptive of farm business decision-making is it going to be,” he asked. “Implementing permanent grassland risks interfering with decisions on grass rotation. Diversification doesn’t tackle the issue of crop rotation and potentially creates real problems for livestock farmers and on arable land.”

--Editors: Sharon Lindores, John Deane

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Tony C. Dreibus at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at

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