Direct EU payments to Lithuanian farmers in 2021-2027 should be capped at 100,000 euros, Agriculture Minister Andrius Palionis says.
“The cap stood at 150,000 euros for this financial period, and it will stand at 100,000 euros for the new period. If we want to change the amount, we'll have to amend the law. The state can raise the cap as much as it wants,” the minister told the opposition parliamentary group of the conservative Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats on Thursday.
He later told BNS that the 150,000 euro cap was lifted in 2019 and there is no cap at the moment.
After Lithuania secured bigger subsidies to its farmers in the European Union's 2021–2027 financial perspective, President Gitanas Nausėda has suggested capping direct payments to prevent big farmers getting most of the support.
Palionis, meanwhile, believes a payment cap would not be effective, saying other forms of support should be used. He said he would probably not sign the order before the end of his term later this year.
The conclusions of the European Council of July 17-21 read that capping direct payments to large beneficiaries will be introduced on a voluntary basis at the level of 100,000 euros.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda called for a cap on direct payments as soon as EU leaders approved the bloc's 2021-2027 budget in late July. His team said these payments could be capped at around 60,000 euros per farm.
According to the president, payments to farmers must be socially fair and go to small and medium-sized farms as well as large ones.
Palionis earlier did not back the president's initiative to cap direct payments, saying this would reduce Lithuanian farmers' competitiveness.
Under the 2021-2027 budget, direct payments to Lithuanian farmers are set to grow to 200 euros per hectare in 2022, from 177 euros currently. The minimum payment should reach 215 euros per hectare in 2027.
The Baltic states secured a better deal on agricultural subsidies at the end of the marathon summit in late July.