German farming union the DBV is pressing for EU farm payments to be protected after new research showed stringent regulations are costing its members far more than their competitors in other countries.
The union commissioned a ‘comprehensive analysis’ of regulatory costs for German farmers, taking into account additional production expenses and lower market revenues caused by EU environmental rules and German-specific ones.
It found German dairy farmers were spending three times as much as Australians complying with regulation; beef farmers ten times as much as their Argentinian competitors; pig farmers 225 times more than those in America and wheat growers 140 times more than their counterparts in Canada (see box below for full figures).
Future expenses could be even higher, as the study did not look at the cost of potential bans on various plant protection products, possible additional animal welfare measures, new greening rules or outgoings associated with social standards such as the minimum wage.
The study said: “Costs for German farmers associated with environmental standards and regulations amount to a minimum of €5.2 billion.
“In non-EU countries, more than €3 billion of those costs do not occur, because various standards or regulations are non-existent.
“The costs of non-EU competitor countries for the remaining comparable standards are significantly lower.
“This leads to significant disadvantages regarding income and competition. This cost burden must be part of the upcoming discussion on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).”
The DBV has previously expressed concerns about the loss of Britain’s £2.5 billion a year contribution to the farming budget, fearing farm payments could be slashed to plug the black hole.
Now newly-elected deputy president of the NFU Guy Smith has warned UK farmers face similar costs and cannot be put at a competitive disadvantage after Brexit.
Make the case
“The DBV has commissioned this work to make the case for the need for continuation of support payments under the CAP”, he said.
“As we understand it, their arguments are finding plenty of purchase with the Commission.
“Despite Brexit, the UK Government needs to be alert to this, largely because the EU bloc will almost undoubtedly remain our main trading partner in agricultural goods going forward.
“This trading platform will need to be a fair and level one.”