European Farmers Granted Flexibility On Land Fallow Rule

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News in brief:
– The European Commission grants farmers partial exemption from land fallow rules, allowing cultivation of nitrogen-fixing and catch crops on 4% of arable land.
– Member states allowed to adjust eco-schemes accordingly, striking a balance between farmer flexibility and environmental standards to support sustainable farming practices.

Farmers across Europe have been granted a partial exemption from the stringent rules on land lying fallow by the European Commission. This decision, effective from today, February 14, until December 31, 2024, aims to address challenges faced by EU farmers while promoting sustainable practices.

Responding to calls for more flexibility, the Commission’s regulation allows farmers to meet the GAEC 8 requirement by cultivating nitrogen-fixing crops or catch crops without plant protection products on 4% of their arable land. This adjustment offers relief to farmers while maintaining environmental standards.

land lying fallow

Derogation at the national level

EU member states can now modify their eco-schemes to accommodate the new baseline under GAEC 8 conditionality, according to details revealed to the public. However, they must notify the Commission within 15 days of the regulation’s entry into force. This ensures timely dissemination of information to farmers, enabling them to adapt to the changes.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, emphasised the importance of supporting farmers in achieving climate and environmental goals. The measure strikes a balance between offering flexibility to farmers and upholding biodiversity and soil quality.

For local farmers, this exemption offers much-needed flexibility in land management. By encouraging the cultivation of nitrogen-fixing and catch crops, the regulation promotes sustainable farming practices while ensuring continued support for EU food security.

The conditionality principle requires farmers to adhere to nine environmental and climate standards to receive funding support under the common agricultural policy (CAP).

GAEC 8, which mandates the allocation of non-productive areas, has been a point of contention. The recent proposal aims to alleviate pressure on farmers while advancing sustainability goals.

Nitrogen-fixing and catch crops, also known as cover crops, contribute to soil health and biodiversity, reducing nutrient leaching. The exclusion of plant protection products maintains the environmental integrity of the CAP.

Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Ohabughiro
Chinwendu Gift Ohabughiro has a background in English and Literary Studies from Imo State University. She brings a fresh perspective to the world of agriculture writing. When she's not penning compelling content, she's likely lost in the pages of a thrilling mystery or treating herself to the sinful delight of chocolate.

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