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Germany to reward farmers over environmental performance

At the Agricultural Congress organised by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze presented concrete proposals as to how farmers in the country can be rewarded for valuable achievements in climate, environmental and nature conservation.

Svenja Schulze
German Environment Minister, Svenja Schulze

The proposals serve to implement the new Common Agricultural Policy (GAP) of the European Union in Germany from 2023. Important decisions are to be made in this regard in the first half of 2021.

Schulze said: “Many farmers are already very active in preserving biodiversity, keeping water bodies clean and protecting the climate. But the system is not working well enough overall – neither for the environment nor for the farmers. The most effective lever for the urgently needed changes is EU agricultural support. So far, this lever has hardly been used, and that needs to change urgently.

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“The EU is providing Germany with more than six billion euros annually for the implementation of EU agricultural policy in the coming years. With this money we should support the farms as targeted and attractively as possible in providing the additional environmental services that are important to us. To do this, we need a smart and concrete plan. I have presented the Federal Environment Ministry’s proposals for this today. I look forward to a constructive and factual debate.”

The core of the proposal by the BMU for the national implementation of the CAP reform plans and for the design of the green architecture are 10 new “eco-regulations” for which 30 percent of the European direct payments are initially to be used, with an upward trend.

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The “eco-regulations” are to be financed with EU funds, including areas with particular value for biodiversity such as fallow land, hedges or arable margins. Farms that further reduce their permitted nutrient surpluses and forego the use of chemical-synthetic pesticides, keep a diverse crop rotation or use their meadows and pastures in an environmentally and animal-friendly manner should also be given targeted support.

“We want to set incentives for farmers in a targeted manner so that they orient themselves towards effective ecological criteria for agriculture when making fundamental operational decisions and thus bring particularly important environmental and nature conservation concerns to the surface,” says Schulze.

For this, the measures for the different locations and conditions would have to be designed differently. The Federal Environment Ministry also made specific proposals for other important elements of the so-called green architecture of the EU agricultural policy.

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The BMU’s Agricultural Congress under the motto “Agriculture and the Environment – Change Shapes the Future” offers a high-ranking forum to discuss the proposals. Schulze opened the agricultural congress this year together with EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

In addition to Schulze, Parliamentary State Secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter and State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth, representatives from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture as well as members of the European Parliament and the Bundestag, state ministers, scientists and practitioners from agriculture and nature conservation took part in the discussion.

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