Blog by Stanka Becheva, Friends of the Earth Europe’s food and farming campaigner
High stakes for European farming
A fresh CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) is served – after three years of discussions between the European Commission, the European Parliament and agricultural ministers of the 27 EU member states. Unfortunately the dish tastes rather stale. The reform process concluded with no substantial improvements to the current harmful agriculture system. There has not been an overhaul of the 270 billion Euro funds for 2023-2027 to make them fairer to farmers or better for nature.
Remember – the total CAP budget accounts for around 30% of the EU’s budget which represents tax payers’ money from across the EU.
Agriculture as usual
The bitter after-taste? Instead of going for a real reform, the EU policy backs away from green goals and in favour of agriculture-as-usual.
Some new catchphrases have been introduced like National Strategic Plans, eco-schemes, basic income support for sustainability. But those are just new ways to fry the same old potatoes and to give an old system a more sustainability-oriented look.
The outcomes are a major blow for the environmental and climate movement, will make reaching the goals set in the European Green Deal* impossible and will put even more farms out of business. Millions of farms in Europe have already disappeared, and nature – our home base which makes food production possible – is in grave danger.
A disaster for farmers and nature
So what went wrong in the kitchen? The stale CAP reform is the result of limited ambition on the side of member states and vested interests that preserve warped farming subsidies which benefit mainly a few industrial-scale factory farms.
Now this failing system looks set to continue, spelling disaster for the environment and small farmers. The CAP will still distribute the majority of subsidies as untargeted direct payments, mainly as a per hectare payment with weak environmental conditions, instead of providing fair income and decent working conditions for small-scale sustainable farmers, land workers and pastoralists and supporting farmers in the transition to more sustainable practices, protection of biodiversity, the environment and the climate, higher animal welfare and fewer, higher-quality animal products.
The very last step in the reform is still to come – a European Parliament vote expected before the summer break.
Will the Parliament serve that stale dish, sprinkled with parsley? Or will it do what’s best for our food and farming and #VoteThisCAPdown?
*As part of its Green Deal plans, the European Commission has adopted targets for 25% of agricultural land to be organically farmed, to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50%, and to give priority to biodiversity on 10% of agricultural areas, by 2030