The European Commission has announced that it is proposing a temporary short-term derogation from rules on crop rotation, and the maintenance of non-productive features on arable land.
This move, which has come on the back of a request from EU member states, is estimated to put back 1.5 million hectares into production compared to today.
The derogation is temporary, limited to claim year 2023, and restricted to what is strictly necessary to address the global food security concerns arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a spokeperson has said.
The impact of such measures will depend on the choice made by member states and farmers, but it will maximise the EU’s production capacity for cereals aimed for food products, said a Commission spokesperson.
The Commission proposal will be sent to EU member states before it is formally adopted.
In a statement, the Commission said:
“The global food system faces strong risks and uncertainties stemming in particular from the war in Ukraine where in the near future also issues of food security may arise.
“In view of the importance of these good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAECs) standards for the objectives to preserve soil potential and improve on-farm biodiversity as part of the long term sustainability of the sector and to maintain the food production potential, the derogation is temporary.
“It is limited to claim year 2023, and restricted to what is strictly necessary to address the global food security concerns, arising due to Russian military aggression against Ukraine,” the spokseperson added.
Therefore, it excludes the planting of crops which are, typically, used for feeding animals (maize and soya).
The spokesperson said that the proposal foresees that member states that make use of the derogations will promote eco-schemes and agri-environmental measures programmed in their CAP Strategic Plans.
“Even though we are in an extraordinary situation with regard to food security, we need to continue the transition to a resilient and sustainable agricultural sector in line with the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, and the Nature Restoration Law,” the spokesperson said.