[unable to retrieve full-text content]Please submit your comments by 26 June 2013.
Environment and countryside
Posts Tagged ‘agricultural’
It follows the UK Government’s decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Alun Davies said,
“Last week, against the express wishes of the Welsh Government, the UK Government moved forward to the next stage in the process of abolishing the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales. I believe this position is flawed and could have serious implications for agriculture and rural development in Wales.
“Indeed in Wales the decision may affect as many as 13,000 low paid agricultural workers.
“I am also disappointed by the way the UK Government has chosen to abolish the AWB. By seeking to abolish it through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, the UK Government has quite deliberately sought to circumvent the Public Bodies Act provisions which are agreed between the UK and Welsh Governments as the mechanism for dealing with the UK Government’s proposals to abolish public bodies for England and Wales.
“In my view this was no more than a tactic to avoid the requirement for Assembly consent for the proposed action.
“I am determined to protect the industry here in Wales and to explore all available options for retaining a body such as or similar to the Agricultural Wages Board, which would continue to support and enhance the effective functioning of the agricultural sector.
“I believe it is right and proper that the people of Wales have their own say on the best way forward. With that in mind I will tomorrow launch a consultation which looks at various options. I would urge farm workers, rural communities and others affected by the UK Government’s actions to share their views so we can ensure the best way forward for Wales.”
The consultation will seek views on the merits of the following options:
- Do nothing’
- Legislate to maintain the functions of the AWB in Wales,
- Create a non statutory advisory board.
Release Date: 04/16/2013
Contact Information: Molly Hooven (News Media Only), [email protected], 202-564-2313, 202-564-4355
WASHINGTON — Today Sarah Bittleman, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) senior Agricultural Counselor to the EPA Administrator will speak on a conference call to agriculture trade press publications. She will discuss her background and her role at EPA as an advisor to the Acting Administrator on ways environmental policy may impact growers and the greater agriculture community.
WHO: Sarah Bittleman, senior Agricultural Counselor to the EPA Acting Administrator
WHAT: Agriculture trade press conference call
WHEN: Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 2 p.m. EST
HOW: To participate, please dial in 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the call at 877-317-0679 and give the conference ID number: 41558502
*** THIS CALL IS FOR CREDENTIALED NEWS MEDIA ONLY***
Written Statement – Common Agricultural Policy – The EU Agriculture Council Meeting Of 18-19 March 2013
As part of the wider EU budget review for the period 2014-2020, the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been under scrutiny over the past two years. In its current state, the CAP accounts for 40% of the EU budget, and provides funding through two routes – Pillar One and Pillar Two. Reform of the CAP has been proposed for a number of years, with a view to moving away from its origins as a subsidy to a source of funding that is able to support sustainable farmland management. These changes have been developing for a long time, and proposals for the next period of CAP after 2013 were drawn up by the European Commission in October 2011. There have been a plethora of discussions and amendments across committees since, and final proposals were put before the full European Parliament for further debate and vote last Wednesday.
The debate and votes on the reforms encompassed all areas of the policy, from the allocation of payments to strengthening the bargaining position of farmers. The introduction of systems to ensure greater environmental protection and management, known as greening measures, were a key part of this. Currently, it is mainly Pillar Two that provides funding for environmental protection, but original proposals from the European Commission outlined the strengthening of Pillar One by introducing new green measures that farmers and land managers must meet.
The European Commission proposed in 2011 that 30% of direct payments could be dependent on farmers meeting criteria around crop diversity, grassland retention and ecological management. Original guidelines state that:
1) Cultivation on land over 3 hectares must be comprised of at least three different crops, with all covering 5-70%;
2) Permanent grassland or pasture should be maintained;
3) At least 7% of land must be managed as ‘Ecological Focus Areas’ (EFAs)
During the negotiations and debate, however, the specifics behind the message of greening the CAP were altered. To receive green funding, farmers still have to meet the three main criteria of crop diversity, maintenance of grassland, and management of land as EFAs, but the environmental guidelines have changed:
Crop diversity: Arable land of 10-30 hectares must be planted with at least two different crops covering 20-80% of the land. Land more than 30 hectares must be comprised of at least three crops covering 5-75% of land;
EFAs: During 2015, at least 3% of land over 10 hectares must be reserved for EFAs. From 2016, this will be expanded to 5%.
Although these are small changes on paper, these alterations have the potential to give considerably different outcomes to the original guidelines. The area of land dedicated to EFAs has been more than halved, a move which will have implications for the EU’s farmland wildlife. Farmland biodiversity has already seen declines over many years. As outlined in a previous blog, one group that has suffered as part of this are farmland birds. EFAs comprise areas such as hedgerows, ditches, ponds, or land left fallow. These can provide benefits to the greater ecological environment, especially in relation to environmental change. As recommended in the 2011 Natural Environment White Paper, for enhanced resilience and coherence of the country’s ecological network, sites need to be ‘more, bigger, better and joined’.
Although greening of the CAP does not look likely to be as ecologically rigorous as initially hoped, the creation of mandatory measures in Pillar One is still a step in the right direction. The area of EFAs remains open to review after 2016, and there will still be additional funding available through Pillar Two to farmers or land owners who want to further increase their sustainable management practices.
The debate and votes last week in the European Parliament were the first stage for the final negotiations for the CAP. European Council discussions are currently underway, and all three European bodies are due to come together to decide a final position on 11 April.
The UK has struck a deal to keep the Common Agricultural Policy on its path of reform, the Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson announced today.
In response to pressure from the UK, the Agriculture Council has provided reassurance that each of the four UK countries can continue to implement CAP regionally.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson said:
“A one size fits all approach to CAP just doesn’t work. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales must be allowed the freedom to deliver outcomes tailored to their own circumstances.
“Working with all the Devolved Administrations and ensuring we spoke with one voice as part of these negotiations has been essential. I am delighted that we have successfully secured key changes to address concerns for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales on issues such as internal convergence and Areas of Natural Constraint. We will continue to represent the interests of the whole of the UK throughout discussions with European Parliament.”
The Council agreed to the Environment Secretary’s appeal for the UK to have freedom to design its own greening measures that will benefit the environment and UK farming.
At the start of the negotiations Member States were required to offer the European Commission’s greening measures in parallel with their own. Mr Paterson secured an important concession so that England can avoid the costs and confusion of parallel schemes by greening direct payments entirely through its own national scheme.
Mr Paterson made clear that the commission’s greening outcomes should be delivered through a simple system, achieving environmental benefits without imposing unnecessary costs on farmers and securing value for taxpayers. Today’s decision will give England the opportunity to achieve these objectives by building on the success of existing agri-environment schemes. Discussions with farmers can now begin on how greening should be designed, alongside the next Rural Development Programme.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson continued:
“The EU requires all farmers to deliver environmental benefits for 30% of their Pillar One CAP payments. The system that emerged from reforms under the previous Government was far too complex and the UK ended up being fined €550 million for not sticking to the rules. I’ve been absolutely clear that this must not happen again. The UK should have the freedom to have a simple, easy to manage system that builds on our well established arrangements. We’re now one very important step closer to being able to set our own greening measures, which work for farmers and use taxpayers’ money more effectively to deliver real environmental benefits.
The majority of Member States were content to allow farmers to be paid twice under two different budgets for delivering the same environmental benefit. Mr Paterson made clear that he shares the European Parliament’s strong opposition to this policy.
Despite significant pressure from some Member States to extend sugar beet quotas to 2020, the UK, working with allies, persuaded the Council to agree that they will end in 2017.
Owen Paterson made his feelings clear:
“Sugar beet quotas are bad for business and bad for consumers. They are driving up the wholesale price of sugar by 35% and adding one per cent to hard pressed families’ food bills. I’m disappointed that they will continue beyond the date previously set for them to end but we have achieved a compromise and fought off calls for the end to be in 2020.
“Britain’s cake, biscuit and confectionary industries support thousands of jobs and turn over billions of pounds each year. The boom in global demand for western-style foods is creating huge opportunities for growth in this sector which we should not hold back. I’m glad that sugar beet quotas will finally be scrapped and I’m determined to work with the Commission to ensure fair treatment for cane sugar refiners.”
The EU Council concluded that coupled payments, the proportion of CAP subsidies linked to production, should increase. Under today’s proposals, Member States, including the UK, which have made the most progress in decoupling payments, will be allowed to pay up to seven percent of their direct payment budget as coupled payments. The remaining Member States will be allowed up to twelve per cent.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson added:
“The UK and our allies are clear that coupled payments are part of the past. It’s disappointing that the Council proposed they continue, but today`s agreement is still a clear improvement on the European Parliament’s proposal for 15% or even 18%. We continue to fight for a common low rate.”
Mr Paterson successfully fought off pressure from some Member States to see extended use of market intervention. Reducing market intervention has helped to keep Europe on the path towards a more competitive farming sector, rather than one subsidised by taxpayers.
Owen Paterson went on to say:
“I’m pressing for further progress towards an open market that makes farmers less dependent on subsidies.”
Earlier this week, Mr Paterson called on the European Commission to ensure that any decision on neonicotinoids is taken in light of field studies into their effects on bee populations. Today, eleven member states supported Mr Paterson’s call for the Commission to use all the latest scientific evidence.
Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson concluded:
“I am determined to do what’s right for bees. We should not be rushed into taking the wrong decision based on inconclusive evidence from laboratory tests. Our decision must be based on real bee activity in real fields. The results of our field trials are now being peer reviewed and I have promised to make them available to all member states and the Commission in the next two weeks.”
Surry, ME (PRWEB) December 14, 2012
Sustainable Harvest International, a non-profit organization and global leader in sustainable agriculture, is asking for support this holiday season as they try to reach their goal by the end of 2012. Each Give a Gift of Hope highlights and supports SHI’s programs, and helps accomplish much needed work for the planet and neighboring countries around the world. Each donation makes a big difference, and for every dollar donated online, SHI will match the donation up until the end of Monday, December 17.
“As we celebrate the season of giving, SHI reflects so proudly how much, and how deeply, our supporters have changed lives and communities in Central America. Every day when these farming families plant more trees on their land, grow a greater variety of nourishing organic foods, and create a living for their families, they realize that people who believe in them made it possible. The generosity of the human spirit keeps SHI going, and inspires us to do even more year after year to protect our planet and its inhabitants.”
From planting trees and growing organic family gardens, to building wood-conserving stoves and supporting beekeepers, the Gift of Hope catalog is integral to SHI’s agriculture program tackling the tropical deforestation crisis in Central America. Through the Gift of Hope program, established in 2008, SHI honors people by contributing to a better world in their names. However, the most profound impact might be how these gifts can inspire others to do more for people and the planet.
“As President of Sustainable Harvest International, the best part of my job is seeing the impact we have on the lives of struggling families in Central America and on the planet,” says Florence Reed. “I still get choked up every time I hear a program participant like Doña Briseida tell me how she used to feel like she didn’t matter and couldn’t make a difference for her children. But after a year of work with SHI, she is feeding her children better, protecting the environment, and setting an example for others in her community.”
When a Gift of Hope is ordered, SHI sends the recipient a beautiful, personalized card. Donations go toward providing farming families in Central America with tools and training they need for reforestation projects while improving their standard of living.
Sustainable Harvest International offers three ways to place orders:
- Order via SHI’s secure, online store
- Call 207-669-8254 to order by phone (Mon-Fr, 9-5 p.m.)
- Download and mail an order form to Sustainable Harvest International, 779 North Bend Road, Surry, ME, 04684
For more information contact Sarah at 207-669-8254 or email sarah.c(at)sustainableharvest(dot)org
About Sustainable Harvest International
SHI addresses the tropical deforestation crisis in Central America by providing farmers with sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture. Founded in 1997, SHI has since expanded its reach from one program in Honduras to also include programs in Panama, Belize and Nicaragua. With the implementation of their programs, poor farmers are now taking responsibility for reversing environmental degradation and achieving economic viability within their own countries. For more information visit http://www.sustainableharvest.org/