LIVINGAGRO: assessment of European Policies supporting agroforestry systems achieved
In terms of preparatory action for the establishment of LIVINGAGRO Living Laboratory n.1 (LL1) relating to olive multifunctional systems, an assessment of European policies dealing with agroforestry and olive multifunctional systems in particular has been carried out by CNR (LIVINGAGRO PP1) within activity 3.1.6 of the project. Below we report the main findings of the elaborated policy assessment document starting from the policy definition of agroforestry, continuing with an analysis on agroforestry in the Common Agricultural Policy framework and ending with an overview of the EU policy framework for the olive sector. Enjoy the reading !
POLICY DEFINITION OF AGROFORESTRY
Agroforestry is recognized as “the practice of deliberately integrating woody vegetation (trees or shrubs) with crop and/or animal systems to benefit from the resulting ecological and economic interactions” (Nair 1993). Within the European Union (EU), Article 23 of Regulation 1305/2013 defined agroforestry systems as “land use systems in which trees are grown in combination with agriculture on the same land.” However, this definition differs from the most common definitions across the world that take into consideration that shrubs, because of their woody perennial nature, can provide many of the same productive, environmental or social benefits of trees. The total area under agroforestry in the EU is estimated to be about 15.4 million ha which is equivalent to about 3.6% of the territorial area or 8.8% of the utilised agricultural area (Den Herder et al., 2017).
AGROFORESTRY IN THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY (CAP) FRAMEWORK
The European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) recognised that agroforestry systems should be encouraged because of their “high ecological and social value”. For this reason, in the 2007-13 Rural Development Plans (RDPs) a dedicated financial support has been foreseen for the establishment of agroforestry systems on arable land through the introduction of a specific measure (Measure 222). The measure provides a grant to cover up to 80% of the establishment costs, without any additional contribution to cover the maintenance costs. According to the measure, a limited range of agroforestry systems can be supported under the current RDP programme. Silvopastoral systems, the intercropping between fruit trees and arable crops, linear systems bordering the fields, for example, cannot be supported under the current grant scheme. Furthermore, the fiche explicitly mentions that agroforestry systems can be established in “extensive” agriculture. But the border between extensive and intensive is not clearly defined. The measure 222 reveals an extremely weak implementation at EU 27 level under the rural development programme, 2007-2013. In order to solve the constraints, the European Agroforestry Federation, EURAF (www.agroforestry.eu) was constituted in 2012. The lobby action conducted by EURAF at level of European Commission and Parliament produced positive effects and the new fiche of the agroforestry measure receipts the most relevant constraints that EURAF have highlighted. In the CAP 2014–2020, agroforestry is promoted through Article 23 of the new Rural Development Regulation 1305/2013 linked to the sub-measure 8.2. Beneficiaries of the measure should be not limited to farmers but may include also municipalities and associations. Moreover, supporting scheme include the cost of establishment (up to 100% of the total costs) and cost of maintenance for a period of 5 years through annual premium per hectare afforested. In total, about 68 million Euro should be distributed among farmers interested to adopt agroforestry practices in their farmlands. In comparison, in the former programming period (2007-2013) the total amount of resources allocated to implement the measure 222 was about 15 million Euro. Indeed, the available resources to create news agroforestry systems are higher but their effective expenditure depends on the regions interest to open the call.
THE EU POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR THE OLIVE SECTOR
Olive production is a significant land use in the southern Member States of the EU with important environmental, social and economic considerations. Community policies are the most significant policies affecting olive farming in the EU Member States. There are very few national and regional measures of significance outside the EU policy framework. In the last 20 years, the CAP has undergone five reforms that have progressively and profoundly modified the original layout based on guaranteed minimum prices and protection against frontiers, towards a support model decoupled from production. Direct payments are a form of income support granted to EU farmers on a per-hectare basis, independently of the production of a specific product. In addition to this basic support scheme, Member States may grant voluntary coupled support linked to production in the olive oil sector that may be undergoing difficulties, under conditions laid down in Article 52 of Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013. Only Italy has opted for this voluntary scheme, with an overall amount of more than €400 million for the years 2015 to 2020 (EPSR Briefing, 2017). Several measures introduced by Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 on support for rural development can assist the olive and olive oil sector, whether directly targeting this farming activity or by addressing general agricultural and rural issues closely related to it. In addition to strategic support for investment in assets, innovation and business development, it is also worth mentioning support granted to participate in quality or certification schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs (Article 16), to facilitate the setting up of producers' groups (Article 27), to carry out agri-environment-climate commitments on agricultural land (Article 28), to convert to or maintain organic farming practices and methods (Article 29), and to make financial contributions to farmers for insurance premiums and mutual funds with the risk management tools (Articles 36 to 39).
Den Herder, M., Moreno, G., Mosquera-Losada, M.R., Palma, J.H.N., Sidiropoulou, A., Santiago-Freijanes, J.J., Crous-Duran, J., Paulo, J.A., Tomé, M., Pantera, A., Papanastasis, V.P., Mantzanas, K., Pachana, P., Papadopoulos, A., Plieninger, T., Burgess, P.J., (2017): Current extent and stratification of agroforestry in the European Union. Agric. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 241, 121–132.
EPSR Briefing September 2017: The EU olive and olive oil sector – European Union, 2017
Nair PKR (1993): An Introduction to Agroforestry. Kluwer Academic Publisher in cooperation with International Centre for Research in Agroforestry.