An invitation to greater harmonization of per-hectare decoupled payment levels
In France, as in many other countries and/or regions, the single farm payment (SFP) was implemented on the basis of the “historical” model. The amount of the SFP received by each farm corresponds to direct payments (coupled with production factors) received during the 2000-02 reference period. To activate the SFP (the activation constraint), the farmer must own or lease a number of hectares at least equal to the number of single payment entitlements. Farmers are not obliged to produce in order to receive the SFP, but they must comply with several Directives and Regulations, and maintain their land in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC) (the conditionality constraint). Consequently, by its very nature, the historical model freezes the distribution of budgetary support across farms (Chatellier, 2006). In other member states, the model for implementing decoupling differs (Boinon et al., 2006).
In this context, the Health Check encourages, but does not oblige, member states having retained the historical model to progressively adopt a more standardized SFP mechanism across farm categories. The reason for this suggestion is to address the objection that, over time, it will become increasingly difficult to justify granting budgetary support to farms solely on the basis of historical precedent.