Myth: New rules from the European Commission governing the running of the EC’s Common Agricultural Policy stipulate that farmers wishing to claim set-aside must mow their land before July 1 or return those fields to cultivation immmediately. The former will result in the massacre of wild birds, game, fawns and flora; and there is little incentive for farmers to delay mowing.
Response: This ought not be the case. There are two pieces of EC legislation which have a bearing in this field, the first of which deals with the set aside system, the second with its actual implementation, which the Member States are left to conduct under a general EC framework.
1.) Council Directive OJ L181, 1.7.1992 establishes a support system for producers of certain arable crops (especially cereals) which will come into effect from the marketing year 1993/1994 onwards. These producers are required to set aside 15% of their land, subject to rotation (this percentage will be re-examined at a later date to take account of production and market developments). The areas set aside as temporary fallow can be used, however, for non-food purposes and must be cared for so as to meet certain minimum environmental standards.
2.) Commission Regulation OJ L221, 6.8.1992 lays down the rules governing land set aside, and stipulates that this must not be put to any lucrative use (in the interest of subsidiarity the implementation and monitoring procedures for this are left to the Member State), and that it must remain set aside for a minimum period of seven months, commencing on December 15 at the earliest and ending on August 15 at the latest. The exact dates set, in this case the July 1 deadline, is left to the Member States. This regulation also specifies that it is the task of the Member State to adopt appropriate provisions in a manner respectful of the environment.
It has been proposed that in the future Community law specifically should address the problem of certain agricultural methods being employed during the nesting season.