On 1 January 2024, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2027 began its second year of implementation. For the Belgian region of Flanders, the CAP Strategic Plan includes benefits for farmers who adopt greener, more sustainable farming techniques and operations. Arable farmers who intercrop may be impacted by eco-schemes that target climate, environment and animal-welfare improvement, and investment support from the Flemish Agricultural Investment Fund (Vlaams Landbouwinvesteringsfonds or VLIF).

One important eco-scheme for intercropping encourages the cultivation of “eco-crops,” which are crops that contribute to soil quality, climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity or other environmental benefits. Annual protein crops commonly included in intercrop mixtures, such as field beans and forage peas, are in the list of eco-crops as part of Action 1. Mixed crops are allowed, but there are prescribed seed densities and the legume must be visible. The subsidy for annual protein crops in this eco-scheme is 600 EUR/ha.

In addition to crop-specific incentives, farmers who are cultivating arable crop mixtures may benefit from support for investments that contribute to building an environmentally-friendly and climate-resilient agricultural sector in Flanders. The VLIF provides support in several categories that may be relevant for intercropping arable farmers. This support ranges from subsidies for farm equipment, such as seeders with different sewing depths for different seeds, to aid in the implementation of an agri-business strategy that is more sustainable and contributes to the region’s environmental goals. Subsidies for investments vary. In the example of farm equipment, farmers can receive 15-60% support, depending on the sustainability of the investment and eligibility for additional aid. For start-up or conversion to a sustainable agri-business, farmers may receive a flat-rate of 20,000 EUR or 40,000 EUR.

This article was written by Theresa Gerber, KU Leuven (Belgium)