Together with cattle & pigs, horses & ponys have played a vital part in the shaping of the New Forest (UK)


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EFNCP and the 2013 CAP reform

Between 2010 and 2013 the EU institutions attempted to reform the CAP. EFNCP was very active in this policy process. Some of our proposals were adopted but overall the reform was a great disappointment for the environment and for HNV farming (see Assessing the new CAP)

Reform was urgently needed. Billions of euros were being wasted on very high payments to the most intensive and competitive farms, while the system did relatively little to support the viability of Europe’s low-intensity farms that are inherently of most environmental value (see report by EFNCP to EEA)

Measures that aim to conserve biodiversity on farmland, such as Agri-environment and Natura 2000 compensation payments “are simply not sufficient when it comes to very extensive and remote farming areas” (the words of the Environment Commissioner in 2010).

There are vast areas of HNV farmland across the EU where these measures are not applied, and major inconsistencies in the use of measures between regions and Member States. Besides, the fundamental socio-economic challenges faced by HNV farming are not addressed effectively by compensation payments and the “income foregone” approach to payment calculation. EFNCP saw a clear need to re-allocate a proportion of direct payments specifically to HNV farming (see proposals below).

Payment schemes to support HNV farming cannot succeed by themselves. Particularly in more marginal situations, local projects that work pro-actively with HNV farmers are essential, and we proposed that these should be mainstreamed into rural development policy, for example as a special type of LEADER project for HNV farmers. Local actions should address socio-economic and conservation issues, leading to greater social recognition and motivation of HNV farmers, and ensuring a critical mass of activity and farmer succession. Our proposal was incorporated to some extent in the new "co-operation" measure for rural development.

The Forum produced a new policy document on the future of High Nature Value (HNV) farming under the CAP post-2013. The launch took place at our 7th-9th September 2010 conference in Sibiu.

As then Commissioner Potocnik said in his video message to the conference, HNV farmers need to make a living but can’t compete with other more lucrative types of farming. As a result, low-intensity farming systems all over Europe face abandonment or intensification. Our paper illustrates this basic income problem for a range of HNV farming types, and proposes the introduction of a new targeted direct payment to fill the income gap.

The policy document on HNV farming was produced jointly with BirdLife International, Butterfly Conservation Europe and WWF. It builds on the joint NGO proposals for CAP reform published in March 2010

The joint proposals included a logical system of payments to promote a more environmentally and economically sustainable model of farming for Europe, consisting of:

  • Basic Farm Sustainability Scheme - for all farmers complying with basic environmental conditions.
  • HNV System Support Scheme – a targeted direct payment as developed in our HNV policy document.
  • Organic System Support Scheme – a targeted direct payment running parallel to the HNV support scheme.
  • Targeted Agri-Environment Scheme – developing the existing measures to pursue clear environmental objectives.
  • Natura 2000 and WFD Compensation Scheme – for specific situations where EU legislation imposes significant restrictions on farmers.

Our response to the Commission’s consultation can be downloaded here. We also produced two detailed submissions, one on the scope for local sub-programmes for supporting HNV farming, and one on the very important topic of permanent pasture rules, linking to our wider work on the topic in 2011. Our proposals were reflected in some policy improvements as reported in Assessing the new CAP.

We also responded to the Commission's draft proposal.

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European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism
Date: 2024/06/18
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