French to push for emergency tillage fund

France will demand the setting up of a crisis support fund for tillage farmers at next Monday’s agricultural council meeting in Brussels, according to a European Commission source.

“This should provide an opportunity for Michael Creed to highlight the unfolding tillage situation in Ireland.

“This will be part of a discussion on the current state of all the agri food commodity sectors, beef, dairy, pigs, cereals and horticulture,” the source said.

“There is strong evidence to confirm that milk prices are now strengthening. A case in point is the recent set of PPI figures from Ornua. Pig prices are also heading in that same general direction.”

Next Monday will also provide Commissioner Phil Hogan with an opportunity to discuss, informally, changes to the current greening measures.

“There have been calls from a number of member states for simplification, where greening is concerned,” the Commission source said.

“No formal proposal on this matter will be put forward at next Monday’s meeting.

It is fair to say that Brussels will not seek to extend the current greening measures. However, next Monday’s meeting will give farm ministers a good opportunity to register their views on the matter.

Next Monday will also see an initial discussion taking place on the additional CAP simplification proposals, contained within the Commission’s Omnibus Regulations, published almost a month ago

In particular, changes are proposed from a Rural Development perspective to provide for a sector specific Income Stabilisation Tool.

This will give individual member states the possibility to design a tool tailored for a specific sector, which it is intended will make it more attractive for both farmers and administrations.

A further substantial change has been proposed to the rural development regulation to introduce simpler rules for accessing loans and other financial Instruments.

These changes are intended to give the necessary boost to make better use of financial instruments in the agricultural sector and providing greater access to capital for farmers, particular young farmers for whom access to credit is an ongoing problem.

The overall aim is to ensure the better targeting of public money and to increase the competitiveness of the farming sector.

In the Direct Payments Regulation, the Commission is proposing to allow greater discretion in the application of the definition of an active farmer.

In effect, Member States will be able to decide whether or not they wish to continue applying the existing definition of active farmer.

If applied, the system will become considerably less burdensome and will substantially ease the paperwork for both farmers and national/regional administrations.