The European Commission has today (Wednesday, December 14), approved all 28 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Strategic Plans, one for each EU country, and two for Belgium, marking the beginning of the new CAP.

€263 billion in EU funding will support farmers across the bloc during the lifetime of CAP 2023-2027, which is due to commence on January 1, 2023.

This investment, combined with national financing within each member state, will bring the total public budget dedicated to farmers and rural communities to €307 billion for the five-year period.

Close to 32% of this funding, or €98 billion, will be dedicated to delivering beneficial actions for the climate, biodiversity, water quality, soil, air and animal welfare.

In addition, 24% of all direct payments will be devoted to eco-schemes, while 48% of rural development spending will support environmental and climate goals.

Other programmes which fall within the remit of CAP but lie outside the CAP Strategic Plans are the POSEI programme for outermost regions, the EU school scheme and a number of promotion programmes.

These initiatives will receive an additional €6 million in EU funding.

Speaking about the approval of the plans, EU Comissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski said members states have “worked closely together to devise good strategies, now is the time to start implementing them.”

“The new CAP will make the EU better prepared to address the challenges that our agricultural sector and farmers are facing today in the economic, environmental, and social fields.

“Our key objective of contributing to food security is preserved. We also maintain a level playing field, while addressing the specific needs and situations at national and regional level,” he finished.

CAP Strategic Plans

According to the commission, all of the approved CAP Strategic Plans outline supporting viable farm incomes and the resilience of the agricultural sector as key objectives.

Under the various plans, close to €20 billion in basic income supports will be distributed to eligible farmers annually, on the condition that they meet strong standards for good agriculture and environmental conditions (GAECs).

25 of the countries have outlined increased supports for small and medium-sized farms, which will amount to €4 billion/year.

In addition, to help them deal with various crises, 15% of EU farmers are set to receive supports which will enable them to subscribe to insurance premia, participate in mutual funds or benefit from other risk-management tools.

Many of the strategic plans also include actions that will reduce the EU’s dependence on imports and certain fertilisers. In particular, the level of support for legumes and other protein crops is set to increase by 25% in comparison to 2022 levels.

Social goals

A number of social objectives can also be seen within the CAP Strategic Plans, with supports for young farmers and improved working conditions particularly prominent.

A total of €8.5 billion will go towards helping young farmers set up, invest and maintain farming businesses during the early years of their enterprise.

As a result, the commission expects 377,000 new, young farmers to establish themselves in the industry.

For the first time ever, a number of countries have incentivised compliance with EU social and labour standards in their plans, through a link between standards and payments, in a bid to improve working conditions on farms.

Some member states, including Ireland, have also included specific goals around improving gender equality and the position of women in agriculture in their CAP Strategic Plans.