With the noise of protests in the countryside, especially now in Spain, Brussels has improved its offer to make fallow more flexible made last week, after negotiating with some member countries. Specifically, it has announced the introduction of “some changes” to the initial proposal so that the rule that requires farmers to reserve part of their arable land for barbecue is suspended throughout this year, reports EFE. Among the changes, instead of keeping the land in barbecue or unproduced on 4% of the arable land, farmers will be able to plant nitrogen-fixing crops (lentils, peas or beans) or intermediate crops on 4% of their land. In the previous draft, the proportion of nitrogen-fixing crops was 7% of arable land.
Within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), farmers must respect a series of principles that respect the environment and the climate to receive a portion of the aid. This is what is known as ‘green conditionality’. One of these principles is to keep a percentage of arable land in barbecue or with hedges or trees, free of crops.
In a context marked by farmers’ protests in several Member States of the European Union, on January 31, the Commission proposed allowing all farmers in the community club not to apply this principle throughout the year 2024, retroactively from the January 1, and continue receiving direct CAP payments. Member states must vote on the proposal and then the EC will formally adopt it.
Commission spokesperson Olof Gill declared this Monday during the institution’s daily press conference that there are “some changes” and that after negotiations with the Member States, decisions were made on “some amendments.” In this sense, he added that the reasoning behind these changes is to “provide greater flexibility” to farmers. The spokesperson also explained that the “main change” is the one that reduces the space in which nitrogen-fixing crops or intermediate crops must be planted to 4%, compared to 7% in the initial proposal. He has also warned that there will be “more news” about the barbecue repeal “very soon.”