A recent decision by EU agriculture ministers to set aside a portion of the bloc’s common agricultural policy (CAP) budget for programmes that protect the environment has come under fire from environmental organisations for not going far enough.
Dr Bérénice Dupeux, senior agriculture policy officer of the European Environmental Bureau, criticised the proposed amendments. “Farming is one of the greatest forces trashing the planet. We are feeling the heat, and yet the EU just voted to pour flames on the fire,” she said.
Thomas Waitz, member of the European Parliament for the Austrian Green party, agreedwith Dupeux, telling the MNews.world website that “farming today is part of the destruction [of the planet], and part of the problem, especially [when it comes to] industrial agriculture.”
The decision followed a two-year struggle to overhaul the EU’s agricultural policy while aligning it with the bloc’s climate change commitments and supporting farmers’ livelihoods.
The CAP budget constituted approximately one-third of the €1,1 trillion (about R21,2 trillion) budget for 2021 to 2027, and was divided between direct payments to farmers and other support for rural development, according to Reuters.
The European Commission announced that the proposed reforms to CAP would include allocating 10% of the available funds to farmland that benefitted biodiversity and 35% to environmental and climate-related measures, while direct payments would be made to farmers who introduced environmental schemes to their production systems.
Responding to environmentalists’ allegations, the European farmer lobby group, Copa-Cogeca, said in a statement: “With all due respect to certain activists, most of whom have never experienced the reality of farming on the ground, we will continue to defend with determination a transition that reconciles agricultural production and environmental conservation for millions of EU farmers.
“It is important to remember that CAP cannot do everything. The focus of CAP must remain on supporting farmers to produce safe, nutritious food sustainably for the benefit of consumers in Europe and beyond.”
Meanwhile, Tim Cullinan, president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, said in a statement that the new CAP proposals and EU Green Deal were not sustainable. “Many aspects of the CAP proposals and the EU Green Deal will put more cost on farmers without any extra return,” he explained.