EU considering imposition of climate conditions on farmers

New opportunities for biogas? The EU Commission wants to attach more green condition to farming subsidies. Reduction in the emission of greenhouses gasses from fertiliser may become one condition.

The EU Commission is proposing that 30% of the direct subsidy to agriculture be conditional on more environmentally friendly and sustainable farming. According to the proposal, requirements may be imposed on top of those that are already contained in the so-called cross compliance.

The proposal forms part of the EU Commission's proposal for the financial framework for the period 2014-2020 which was published on 29 June. The Commissioners write that the new farming conditions may include e.g. reduction of the emission of greenhouse gasses from artificial and animal fertilisers.

Biogas may be an option

Biogas News has spoken to Kristian Ruby, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard's personal assistant. We asked him whether degassing the animal fertiliser is an option if the new conditions are adopted by the EU.

- Yes, says Kristian Ruby. - When you use artificial fertiliser, there are several problems. Firstly, it is an energy-intensive product. Manure will also be left over which is responsible for some emissions. If you could change this practice to ensure that manure was used to fertilise the fields and less artificial fertiliser was used, the climate would benefit.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Dacian Ciolos and his employees are now working to produce a more detailed proposal for the requirements that farmers have to meet to receive their 30% subsidies. The more detailed proposal is expected to be published in the second week of October this year.

- We will only see how ambitious the proposal is and how many new conditions will be imposed on farmers when the proposal is published by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, explains Kristian Ruby.

The Commissioner's press spokesman Roger Waite does not wish to comment on the issue of whether reduction in emission of greenhouse gasses from fertiliser will become part of the new farming requirements. The reason is that proposal details are still being worked out and negotiated.

Potentially large reductions

There is no doubt that degassing animal fertiliser will be an efficient measure if the new conditions become reality. That is the message from Managing Director Jørgen Ballermann at Xergi.

- Biogas technology ensures that we reduce the emission of methane, in particular from animal fertiliser. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and by degassing the animal fertiliser we prevent the methane from being released into the atmosphere. At the same time, we use the methane for energy production which will displace fossil fuels, explains Jørgen Ballermann.

But that is not all. The degassed biomass is better suited as fertiliser than untreated animal fertiliser.

- The degassed product can be used in place of artificial fertiliser which causes significant emissions of greenhouse gasses, says Jørgen Ballermann.

Improved resource utilisation and export

- This proposal means that European farming will be able to optimise its resource utilisation and the biogas industry will acquire a better platform as a new, large, European export business, he says.

But there is still some way to go for the EU Commission financial framework proposal 2014-2020. More detailed proposals are being put forward in October. It will then be up to the European Parliament and ministers in each member country to decide whether the proposal should be adopted - a process that may run well into 2013.

Contact:

Xergi A/S, Managing Director Jørgen Ballermann, tel: +45 99 35 16 00, jba@xergi.com

The EU Commission proposal for the financial framework 2014-2020 can be downloaded here

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