News16 April 2020Brussels, BelgiumAgriculture and Rural Development
Coronavirus: Commission adopts additional measures to support the agri-food sector
Today, the European Commission adopted two measures to help the agri-food sector. The measures will increase the cash flow of farmers and reduce administrative burden for national, regional authorities and for farmers in these particularly challenging times.
To increase the cash flow of farmers, the Commission adopted higher advances of payments for farmers. This will increase the advances of direct payments (from 50% to 70%) and rural development payments (from 75% to 85%). Farmers will start receiving these advances from mid-October. As an additional flexibility, Member States will be able to pay farmers before finalising all on-the-spot checks.
The second measure adopted today reduces the number of physical on-the-spot checks. EU countries have to carry out checks to ensure that eligibility conditions are met. However, in the current exceptional circumstances, it is crucial to minimise physical contact between farmers and the inspectors carrying out the checks. The overall number of checks to be carried out is reduced, for the prevailing part of the common agricultural policy (CAP) budget from 5% to 3% (for direct payments and rural development measures). The derogation also provides flexibilities in terms of timing of the checks to allow Member States the most efficient use of resources while respecting the confinement rules.
Member States will be able to use alternative sources of information to replace the traditional on-farm visits. The Commission is encouraging the use of new technologies, for example to extend the use of satellite images to check the agricultural activity on the field or geo-tagged photos to prove that investments took place. This measure will help reduce administrative burden and avoid unnecessary delays in processing aid applications to ensure that support is paid to farmers in the shortest possible timeframe.
During these unparalleled times, the European Union's agri-food sector is showing its resilience and continues to provide Europeans with high quality and safe food. Ensuring food security and an effective food supply chain across the continent remains one of the Commission's priorities.
Nonetheless, the Commission is aware of the difficult conditions that some of our farmers currently face. We have already announced several measures to introduce more flexibility in the implementation of the CAP to support European farmers. In addition, we adopted early on guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services and subsequent guidance documents to ensure the free flow of goods and seasonal workers within the single market and mitigate the negative effects of coronavirus on the functioning of the food supply chain.
We keep in close contact with EU countries regarding their needs. The Commission keeps monitoring closely all agricultural markets and trade of food products and remains ready to take further action when necessary.