New IFOAM EU report highlights the role of CAP Eco-schemes to incentivise sustainable farming practices

The recently introduced CAP Eco-schemes have great potential to drive the transition towards more sustainable farming systems. This is stated in a new report by the research institutes FiBL and IEEP, commissioned by IFOAM EU.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is currently under negotiations in the EU institutions. At the same time, Member States started to define their priorities through the CAP Strategic Plans. The Eco-scheme is one of the main innovations in the new CAP proposal. Yet, many uncertainties remain about its content, funding and implementation.

Jan Plagge, IFOAM EU President states that “if adequately programmed, Eco-schemes would represent a huge opportunity for farmers to be remunerated for the public goods they provide. This success depends on financial incentives, which go hand in hand with IFOAM EU’s first recommendation to ringfence 70% of the CAP budget for environmental and climate action”.

IFOAM EU’s new guide ‘Using Eco-schemes in the new CAP’ provides support to policy-makers, Member State officials and other public and private  stakeholders involved in developing CAP Strategic Plans. It allows for gaining a better understanding of this new policy tool. Among others, it

  • Provides a thorough analysis of the policy’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • Highlights technical details for its implementation, such as choosing the right payment model;
  • Presents a wide range of interventions that could be eligible for Eco-schemes, including systems-based approaches such as organic farming, conservation agriculture, the protection and maintenance of High-Nature Value (HNV) farmland areas or agroforestry;
  • Gives recommendations on how to identify the main problems and barriers to develop effective and efficient measures;
  • Provides guidance on the monitoring and evaluation of Eco-schemes.

Dr. Matthias Stolze, Head of the Department of Socio-economics at FIBL and co-author of the report said: “The full potential of Eco-schemes has not yet been recognised. There is a scope to use sustainability assessment tools to focus actions on real needs and to monitor outcomes on farms. For Eco-schemes to achieve their full potential, there is a need to ensure the allocation of sufficient resources and political support for the implementation of innovative approaches.”

Overall, Eco-schemes could increase the uptake of system-based and agroecological approaches substantially. To do so, their planning needs to take other policy developments into account. These include the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, the EU Strategy for Biodiversity and a new Organic Action Plan.

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