Ministers urged to agree to greener agriculture before they assign budget

19 September 2012

Friends of the Earth Europe, along with nine other leading green campaign groups, today wrote (.pdf) to European Ministers to urge them not to make any decisions about the EU budget before they clarify what the reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will deliver for citizens.

The Green 10, a coalition of the ten largest environmental organisations and networks operating at EU level, wrote to Ministers of Finance, European Affairs, and Agriculture. The letter urges them to clarify what the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will deliver before its budget is allocated in the EU's long-term budget 2014-2020 (known as the Multiannual Financial Framework, or MFF).

The Green 10 wrote that it wants to see safeguarded only the parts of the CAP budget which would be provably beneficial to European society and taxpayers. There is concern that much of the CAP, as it currently exists, favours large, industrial farms whose intensive production is particularly environmentally damaging. Friends of the Earth argues (.pdf) that the CAP encourages a style of agriculture that is detrimental to biodiversity, the climate, consumer health, water reserves and more, both in the EU and elsewhere in the world.

The Green 10 letter states: "Both within the European Parliament and within the Council, agriculture negotiators are planning to wait for a decision to be taken on the MFF before providing any clarity on the fundamental question of how this new CAP budget will actually be used. Some MEPs have even gone on record arguing that any cut in the CAP budget would translate into cuts in the one part of the CAP budget that actually brings benefits to society. It is becoming ever clearer that the CAP is more likely to be greenwashed rather than being "greened"."

Friends of the Earth has been involved in the Good Food March, a protest movement of farmers and consumers campaigning for reforms to the CAP to favour smaller, more sustainable farms, especially organic farming, to end to food speculation, to ensure fair prices for farmers, and increase cultivation of local protein crops – rather than importing soy to feed Europe's farm animals.

Young Friends of the Earth has also launched its reCAP campaign, calling for green reforms to the CAP.

The current CAP harms the environment by encouraging massive monoculture farms which require large amounts of artificial fertilisers and pesticides, causing soil erosion, biodiversity damage, and contributing to climate change.