The Agenda 2000 CAP reform proposals, the most important item on farm ministers' agenda, will determine how 50 billion Ecus will be spent be each year between 2000 and 2006. As currently proposed, nearly nine tenths of this money will continue going to market regimes with only around three percent on agri-environmental measures.
Despite spending these huge sums over the years, the CAP has failed to benefit the EU's rural economies or its environment. EU farming employment has fallen from 13 million to 7 million people over the last 25 years amid widespread damage to the environment in the form of nitrate-laden watercourses from intensive animal farming.
Presenting its reactions to Agenda 2000, WWF called for the following recommendations to be adopted: All CAP support must be conditional on farmers meeting basic environmental standards - with payments withheld from farmers for non-compliance;
The rural development regulation must be strengthened and made accessible to other actors in local economies (not only farmers). Rural development programmes must be funded from the main CAP budget (Guarantee section of the CAP budget); To ensure that programmes are sustainable, agri-environment policy must be at their heart, with one quarter (25%) of all CAP spending going towards agri-environment policy by 2006. This money could come from the phase out of compensation payments;
We are looking to create a new dynamic for rural areas. Nature conservation offers economic potential and must be seen as an opportunity for rural inhabitants. Farmers are leaving the land every day, and the rural development regulation could offer rural people a new chance to work with the environment, said Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office.
Farmers, like any other economic sector, must meet environmental standards. They should certainly not get taxpayers' money for damaging the environment. They should, however, be rewarded for providing society with what it wants, namely healthy food produced in a way that protects the beauty and diversity of the countryside. That is why we need more money for agri-environment policy, said Natacha Yellachich, WWF's European Agriculture Co-ordinator.
We urge farm ministers to make clear to the Vienna summit in December that all CAP support must be linked to the environment and more money should be earmarked for agri-environmental policy, she added.
CONTACT: Natacha Yellachich, Tel +32 2 743 8800 or Tel +44 171 274 7111