The Union of Grower and Rancher Unions has shown its opposition to the measure proposed by the Commission, and discussed, this week, at the Council of Ministers of Agriculture, to ban the use of phytosanitary products on the lands declared by the growers to comply with the conditions imposed by greening.
During the Council, held last Monday, the Commission has insisted on carrying out the measure, although postponing its implementation by one year, i.e. from 1 January 2018. The Union of Grower and Rancher Unions believes that, if carried out, legume and protein crops would suffer a major setback as crops of environmental interest.
The organization points out that, since the entry into force of the reform of the CAP, more than 300,000 producers in Spain have been forced to uphold certain agro-environmental practices to gain access to the "green" part of direct aid, including keeping 5% of their acreage as an ecological interest area; a requirement that can be complied with by the introduction of nitrogen-fixing crops.
With the inception of this measure, the planting of protein crops, in which Spain is deficient, increased by more than 33% between the CAP 2014 campaign and 2015, especially in crops such as peas or beans, but also with significant growth in alfalfa and vetch; productions that play an important role in nitrogen fixation. In Spain in the first year of application of greening, some 50,500 farmers have been credited as ecological focus areas for over 711,000 hectares of nitrogen fixing crops.
The Union insists that the ban on the use of pesticides in these areas represents a major difficulty for the maintenance of these productions, which are prone to pest attacks, and that without proper treatment the yields may be reduced to a point where the harvest is ruined.
"The impossibility of carrying out such treatments, as proposed by the Commission, would have a negative environmental impact, contrary to what they are aiming for," claims the organization. "Firstly, because the acreage devoted to nitrogen-fixing crops would be reduced, thus increasing the need for fertilizers, and secondly, because the reduction in the production of protein crops and legumes would end up having to be covered with increased imports of crops such as soybean, mostly transgenic," they add.
The organization also said that this issue had already been addressed during the discussions dealing with the CAP reform and that there was no consensus for its implementation. "The Commission now intends to force it in through the back door with a delegated regulation, despite the clear opposition against it, stated at the Council of Ministers of Agriculture of the EU this past Monday by a group of 18 countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Croatia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Finland and the UK)," insist the representatives of the organization.
The Union has asked the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture to position itself alongside these countries to oppose the approval of the measure and to do everything in its power to prevent its implementation.