Clearly, compensation payments for depredated livestock are an important tool to support farmers. Unfortunately, such payments usually take a long time. High bureaucratic efforts and long waiting times diminish their effectiveness as a tool to help farmers in challenging situations. Now, a new system, tested and installed recently in Majella National Park in Italy, shows that it does not have to be this way: They can provide compensation payments to farmers in 24 hours! Here is how it works:
A farmer reports the loss of a sheep, allegedly predated by a wolf. The Veterinarian of the Park gets an alert and carries out the necropsy inspection, in this case confirming wolf depredation. The following morning the farmer accepts the compensation proposal. Then, the Veterinary Office of the Park finalizes the administrative process of the direct payment to the farmer the same day. Eventually, depending on the availability of a vet and the complexity of the case, this process extend a little bit. However, the main point is that the system is set up to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and, thus, compensates the farmer as soon as possible.
This is an important step towards better support of farmers with the challenges they face concerning the presence of wolves in Majella National Park. Overall, livestock protection in the region is very successful. Wolves have always been in the area and, thus, farmers are used to live and work alongside them. An important part of achieving similar livestock protection results in the German-speaking region of the Alps is information and knowledge exchange with experienced livestock farmers. The LIFEstockProtect project encourages this exchange between farmers of different regions. The LIFEstockProtect team visited Majella National Park already several times to exchange knowledge and skills with locals. During the latest visit, Austrian farmers even joined the project team. They visited several Italian farmers who shared their experiences with them. Curious? You can read about the visit in this article.
One of the many different topics that we will address in this project is the integration of sufficient funding streams for the implementation of livestock protection via EU financing schemes. Especially important for this are the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Rural Development Programmes (RPDs). These two funding schemes are currently being revised by experts. Hence, now is the time to ensure that for the next years EU Member States will allocate enough funding for livestock protection.
The CAP was first launched by the European Union in 1962. It is a partnership between the agricultural sector and society, focusing on all the farmers in Europe. It is the common polity in all EU countries in fact. The CAP aims to ensure that farmers can sustain food production in an environmentally friendly way. Also it helps to promote rural development. The CAP includes different aspects to support farmers in the EU. For example direct income support, but also financial support for climate change mitigation actions, and for efforts to maintain a vibrant rural community.
Furthermore, each EU country has one or more RDPs. These programmes are there especially to:
foster knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas;
enhance the viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture, and promote innovative farm technologies and sustainable forest management;
promote food chain organisation, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture;
promote resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors;
restore, preserve and enhance ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry;
and promote social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas.
Having these RDPs allows EU countries to tackle and address their own unique challenges and capabilities. At least four of the six priorities listed above should be included in the RDPs, which can be designed on regional or national level.
Discussing lobby synergies for CAP and RDP
In Austria, Italy and Germany it is important to create synergies between such lobby efforts from different organisations. Some of our partners have already been actively lobbying for months and years, and we need to make sure that these are not conflicting with other livestock protection lobbying. That is why there has been an online meeting last week with the management of Majella National Park and Legambiente. The association Legambiente is one of the most prominent and widespread environmental association in Italy. It has 20 regional coordination offices and more than 600 local groups of volunteers. During the meeting, we explored the opportunities to create lobby synergies, for example in the form of a common position paper.
More details and updates will follow as we will work on this interesting and important topic. Addressing this topic will help to ensure that livestock protection across the entire Alpine region will be effectively implemented with sufficient financial support from the European Union.