Rotation at the plot level, a cascade of negative effects
The number of “false good ideas” in Brussels is definitely increasing. After “Taxonomy”, which stigmatises agriculture by describing it as unsustainable, the obligation of plot rotation in the CAP is another example of the disconnect between the Community’s circles and the agronomic and economic reality. While rotation is a reality on most farms, it is a constant concern for the maize sector, which is struggling to make its specificities understood. With plot-based rotation – which decision-makers appear to consider as the superior solution – there would be cascading effects that are the exact opposite of the goal. The first and most visible effect would be a massive reduction in production. In France, for example, the reduction is estimated at 20% of corn and 15% of silage maize production. The loss would be even greater for seed maize (around 40%), all at a time when Ukraine has just been granted equivalence to export its seed to the EU, and European self-sufficiency in maize is shrinking year after year. This drastic reduction in production will have major effects on the downstream sectors, starting with animal feed. It should not be forgotten that the maize produced on farms is used to feed the poultry, pigs or cattle on the farms or via feed factories. In addition to the very significant loss of income that would result, major job losses would be expected in certain areas, as well as the undermining of short-distance transport, one of the key principles of sustainable agriculture. Last but not least, the loss of maize acreage would have to be compensated for by replacement crops, but again with environmental damage because maize – and everyone should know this – is a crop with low plant protection use and one of the most efficient crops for carbon storage and water management. In addition, maize has historically been at the forefront of innovation in bioresources for bio-plastics and bio-ethanol in particular. I have always heard that you should never change a winning team. In this case, it’s the opposite: by changing a single parameter, you destroy the entire eco-system for the benefit of no one, except for international competitors.