Minister Navickas: a long-term solution to grassland restoration urgently needed

Kęstutis Navickas.

The Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers of the European Union (EU) has approved an amendment to the Delegated Regulation adopted by the European Commission (EC), which will not require the restoration of perennial grasslands in Lithuania. However, Agriculture Minister Kęstutis Navickas points out that a long-term solution is needed to address the problem, otherwise we will have to face the same problem again in a few years' time.

To address the problem of restoration of permanent grassland in a substantive way, further changes to the EU framework legislation are needed to include alternative ways of mitigating the effects of climate change alongside the management of permanent grassland.

The procedure for amending the Basic Regulations is complex, but the simplifications proposed by the EC for Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC) standards 5, 6, 7 and 9 have already been taken up, and Lithuania is seeking a longer-term solution for GAEC 1 on the management of permanent grassland.

„We are deeply grateful for what has already been done to address the difficulties faced by Lithuanian farmers with regard to permanent grassland. We hope to be able to implement the changes to GAAB Standard 1 soon. However, a broader approach is also very important. The multiple contributions of farmers' actions to mitigating climate change, such as afforestation of agricultural land with mi&scaron, restoration of drained peatland and grassland to its original state, conversion to non-arable farming and other sustainable farming practices, must be taken into account. These should be seen as alternatives to or in addition to the commitment to maintain permanent grassland. This must find a place in EU legislation as soon as possible," stresses Minister Navickas.

On 26 March, the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council approved by a majority an amendment to the delegated regulation concerning the provisions on the retention of permanent pasture. The legislative process will be finalised once the European Parliament has given its opinion on the š reglement in a vote in plenary. It is expected that the issue will be on the agenda of the next plenary session on 10-11 April. Some of the amendments contained therein will enter into force retroactively from 1 January 2024. The adaptation of these amendments means that Lithuanian farmers will not need to re-establish perennial grassland in 2024.