EU agriculture commissioner proposes policy shift as farmers protest

By Thomson Reuters Feb 23, 2024 | 12:25 PM

PARIS (Reuters) – The EU should change conditions imposed on farmers to benefit from Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) funding, European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said in an interview with French newspapers of the Ebra group.

His comments, to be published on Saturday, come after weeks of angry protests by farmers across Europe, who have taken to the streets to decry red tape, green regulations and high costs.

“I propose today that we change our position on some of the cross-compliance rules which tend to limit agricultural production,” Wojciechowski said in an interview with the group that owns nine regional titles across France, including L’Est Republicain and Le Progres.

He specifically referred to rules regarding the conversion of arable land into permanent grassland, the ban on bare soil during sensitive periods, crop rotation, and fallowing, which he said farmers should no longer be obliged to follow to receive CAP funding.

He said the rules “create a risk for EU food security”.

Wojciechowski also said he would favour an EU-wide price law, similar to France’s Egalim law, designed to guarantee fair prices to farmers.

“It will be necessary to include in this law the principle that it is prohibited to pay farmers a price lower than the cost of production,” he said.

In France, farmers were back on the streets of Paris on Friday, warning President Emmanuel Macron that he should expect a difficult welcome when he opens a major farm show on Saturday.

There have also been protests in Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the Czech Republic.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Jan Harvey)