CAP reform: too little to protect environment and greener farming

12 October 2011

European Commission’s plan unlikely to tackle food, farming and biodiversity crises without major improvements

Proposed reforms to the future of farming in Europe, announced today, are insufficient to protect the environment and the majority of farmers, according to Friends of the Earth Europe [1].

Stanka Becheva, Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner said: "Agriculture in Europe is in a mess – with wildlife and farmers disappearing at an unprecedented rate. The Commission's proposals include well-meaning initiatives, but they're simply not enough to address these problems, and the overall package is weak. Securing a viable future where farmers get a fair deal and our natural resources are protected is urgent and essential.

"Some of the simplest of measures are missing – ensuring arable farmers rotate crops on their fields with nitrogen-rich legumes would reduce our dependency on rainforest-damaging soy animal feeds. Its omission shows the influence of agri-business, pushing intensively-farmed monocultures at the expense of fairer and greener farming."

Weaknesses in the Commission proposal:

  • Weak or vague conditions for linking farmers' payments with protecting the environment (so called 'greening').
  • Not enough to make Europe more self-sufficient in animal feeds as an alternative to importing soy-based feeds.
  • No clear measures to ensure arable farmers rotate crops on their fields - a key measure to reduce emissions and protect the soil.
  • Export subsidies and indirect forms of export support still exist.
  • Not enough support to protect biodiversity in both pillars – the targets of the EU biodiversity strategy will not be achieved without further improvements.

Welcomed initiatives:

  • Moving away from historical payments to a flat rate payment scheme.However, bigger farms will still gain most from this.
  • Capping payments to bigger farms. However, with part of the payments subtracted before the cutting rate applies (e.g. greening payments), the capping would affect only a few farms.
  • 30% of the direct payments budget should be targeted upon "green" initiatives, although the measures are vague.
  • Support measures for small farms, although it is not clear how this will be implemented and whether it would be enough to ensure their survival.
  • 2nd pillar continues to give incentives for the environment, but maintains status quo. It now includes support for organic farming. The proposals need further improvement.

Cows dressed as explorers and detectives searched the Berlaymont for signs of the 'green' CAP this morning. Images available.

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NOTES:

[1] Friends of the Earth Europe's briefing on the CAP, 'Public money for public goods' is available here:
http://www.foeeurope.org/download/CAP_proposals_briefing_Oct2011.pdf

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