Reduction of monocultures in E.U. agriculture.
At 40% of their annual expenditures, agriculture is the E.U.’s biggest budget item, and it underwent some rational-sounding changes in 2013. The E.U. agricultural reforms agreed in the Agricultural Committee on 26 Jun 2013 started a shift in subventions, disincentivizing “ecologically problematic and optically wasteland-like monocultures,” according to ARD tagesschau.de. Subventions to large monocultures were to be reduced, with small and medium-sized farms being required to plant at least three different crops. “Greening” actions will have to be carried out by farmers in order to receive the 30% of subventions newly contingent on “environmentalization” steps, penalizing farmers who don’t enact the measures by two years after the new rules come into effect. Apparently the new measures encourage grasslands, and 5% of farmers’ land is to be kept free of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Individual countries will now have the right to reduce subventions paid to large agribusinesses receiving >150,000 euros/year and increase subventions to small and mid-sized farms and young farmers <41 years old. Bug fixes: A blacklist will be drawn up of landed entities such as airports and sports clubs (i.e. golf) that will now have to prove they get substantial income from farming before they can receive farming subsidies in future. Previous erroneous multiple extra payments to farmers, so-called “double funding,” should now be eliminated. The European Parliament’s press release on the agreement concludes with the next steps for the reform: the long-term financial framework (M.F.F., multiannual financial framework) for the reform has to be worked out, after which the reform can move on to the Council for the countries’ leaders to approve. ARD tagesschau.de said in June 2013 that their approval was considered certain.
These reforms passed at the E.U. level on 25 Sep 2013.
Update on 05 Nov 2013: E.U. farm subventions are to be distributed in Germany according to a new system (Schlüssel: key or code) agreed by the German state agricultural ministers. ARD tagesschau.de said the size of the farm is no longer supposed to be the main criterion. This will shift subvention money from large farms in the former East Germany to small and medium-sized operations (“<46 hectares”). Brussels will now be sending 6.2 billion euros in farm subsidies to Germany per year, a reduction of about 10%. Also, “new environmentally-friendly programs will be paid for from the highly-contested budget for direct payments.” German farmers and their union, the Deutscher Bauernverband, said the security of knowing what monies will be coming to them in the next few years helps make up for the fact that it’s less money.
Update on 12 Nov 2013: The E.U. Parliament and E.U. Member States passed a budget planning to spend ~135.5 billion euros total in 2014, that’s ~9 billion euros less than in 2013, with >43 billion going directly to farmers.
(MINNED ah roong dare mon oh cool TOUR en.)