Farming bodies and environmental groups are at loggerheads after yesterday’s key vote over the future of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Yesterday, MEPs voted in favour of making limited environmental measures in the new CAP mandatory.
“Today we have struck a proper balance between food security and improved environmental protection, so that the new EU farm policy can deliver even more public goods to EU citizens,” said agriculture committee chair Paolo De Castro.
“Today we have struck a proper balance between food security and improved environmental protection, so that the new EU farm policy can deliver even more public goods to EU citizens” - Paolo De Castro
The NFU welcomed the fact the Commission’s “ludicrous proposal” to set aside 7% of land for Ecological Focus Areas – that is, land reserved for nature – was slashed to 3% by MEPs.
However, it said that in other areas, the Parliament had not gone far enough. “MEPs failed to support any of the amendments which would have derogated many of our grassland farmers, and all of our farmers who are already undertaking agri-environment commitments, from having to do further greening requirements,” said NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond.
In contrast, Friends of the Earth claimed the changes did not go far enough in enshrining environmental measures. For example, measures on crop rotation – which helps protect soil and water – were not included. “This will lead to the further expansion of monoculture farming practices and an increase in accompanying pesticides use.” It also complained that large industrial farms would continue to receive the lion’s share of the subsidies while small farmers would find it harder to survive.
The European Parliament, however, claimed that it had backed plans to cap direct payments to any one farm at €300,000 and substantially reduce payments to those receiving more than €150,000.