Agri-environment payments - how are they being used?
Agri-environment land management payments are the only measure that every Member State must implement within their 2007-13 Rural Development Programmes (RDPs). These incentive payments are of particular interest because some of the proposals for ‘greening’ CAP payments, such as crop diversification and maintenance of permanent grassland, are commonly found as part of ‘entry-level’ agri-environment schemes, and after 2014 the new green requirements will become part of the baseline for agri-environment payments.
IEEP has just completed a study of all 88 RDPs in the EU-27 and created the first typology of entry-level agri-environment management actions and their potential contribution to EU environmental objectives. Case studies in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Poland and the UK show how these payments are used to incentivise environmental management just above the reference level, and how schemes are targeted, designed and revised.
The study, available on the IEEP website , concludes that in a reformed CAP there will be two distinct roles for entry-level agri-environment schemes targeting regional environmental priorities. The first is to improve environmental management by building upon the foundation provided by the proposed Pillar 1 ‘greening’ measures. The second is to maintain existing environmentally appropriate land management where this is threatened.
Experience of current schemes could help to inform the process of designing the 2014 agri-environment programmes in several ways, for example:
- environmentally targeted and differentiated entry-level requirements and payments could employ cost-effective new technologies such as digital mapping;
- farm advisory and support services have a critical role, and Farm Advisory Services could be expanded to cover agri-environment advice; agri-environment training within entry-level schemes could also be beneficial;
- involving farmers in scheme design and review processes, and providing them with feedback on environmental impacts, can improve capacity building, understanding and uptake;
- guidance to Member States on covering farmers’ transaction costs may need to be revised;
- small-scale pilot testing and evaluation of entry-level schemes could improve efficiency, acceptance and delivery; and
- initiating ‘fast track’ internal reviews during the first two years of a scheme can be an effective way of resolving problems.
For more information contact Clunie Keenleyside