There has been Christmas good news on three fronts!
Firstly, the “provisional text” of the CAP Strategic Plan Regulation, adopted by parliament in plenary after lengthy discussion in COMAGRI and COMENVI, contained 15 mentions of agroforestry, compared with three in the draft submitted by the Commission in June 2016.
Secondly, a guidance-text related to the Farm to Fork Strategy issued by DGAGRI at the end of October listed four “flagship” examples of EcoSchemes (which are a new measure in Pillar I focused on climate and environment actions, and potentially ring fenced for 30% of the Pillar I budget). The list included: agroforestry, agro-ecology, precision farming and carbon farming.
Thirdly, EURAF’s online Agroforestry Policy Webinar on 16-18th November, was well attended.. It allowed us to present eight policy briefings and fifteen priorities for modification and interpretation of the Strategic Plan Regulation during the trialogue between the Commission, Council and Parliament. These are:
- The 8 recognised AF practices should have codes for use by farmers in the IACS/LPIS.
- MS should use modern GIS techniques to pre-identify ALL Landscape Features in their IACS/LPIS systems.
- The EU Forest Strategy should focus the promised 3 billion extra trees - by 2030 - OUTSIDE the Forest.
- MS should clarify to all farmers that they are entitled to full Direct Payments on agroforestry areas, subject to production of a simplified management plan (e.g. through the Eco Scheme option).
- MS should include guidance on agroforestry in their national rules for Good Agricultural and Environmental Practices (GAEC 1-10).
- MS should fully include AF areas in their national GAEC-9 area thresholds - including both arable land and permanent pasture.
- MS should not (as at present) limit the counting of “hectares of agroforestry” in their GAEC-9 thresholds to areas which have been assisted by CAP Pillar II schemes - all areas covered by a simplified management plan should be eligible.
- MS should have flexibility over the dimensions permitted for tree Landscape Features (up to an agreed maximum), and the rules should be transparent to all farmers.
- In Pillar I, five different AF annual Eco-Schemes are suggested - including an initial annual grant titled “planning for agroforestry and landscape features”.
- In Pillar II, MS should continue the current grant for AF establishment and regeneration (aka 8.2)
- In Pillar II, MS should include forest grazing as part of “forest protective infrastructure” (aka 8.3 & 8.4).
- In Pillar II, MS should use an “Agroforestry Agri-Environment-Climate Measure” (aka 10.1) to provide annual support payments equivalent to that given to afforestation schemes.
- Result Indicator 17 should read “Afforested and Agroforested Land” - not simply “Afforested Land”
- Result Indicator 29 “Preserving Landscape Features” is vital to the next CAP - its removal from the indicator list by AGRIFISH should be reversed.
- Countries which fund forestry (and therefore AF) outside the CAP should report on measures annually.