Farming with nature is profitable with MEP support, reveals new WWF publication



Posted on 27 February 2013  | 
(Brussels, 26th February) Ahead of the important plenary vote on the 13th of March on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy, WWF has launched its latest publication Voices from the Farm, showcasing the work of farmers across Europe who make the CAP Rural Development programme work for their farm businesses and for the environment.
 
With the Rural Development fund at risk due to budget cuts of nearly 12%, less money will be available to farmers who farm sustainably in the future. Voices from the Farm highlights success stories from around Europe of farmers who have used Rural Development funds in ways that are beneficial to the environment; from: the Eriksson farm in Sweden who uses state of the art technology to the 85 hectare ecological farm of Daniel Cismas in Romania, Rural Development funding is  key to their success. 
 
Farmers and 90% of citizens want agriculture in the EU to produce more public goods (environment + health). So instead of subsidising CAP, maintaining a strong Rural Development fund is one of the best ways that the EU can achieve this. Unfortunately the EU budget for 2014-2020 agreed upon by EU leaders in February has left this fund under resourced while saving the untargeted and outdated Direct Payments system from the brunt of the cuts. 
 
Quote Tony Long, Director WWF European Policy Office
“The Common Agricultural Policy can work effectively to support farmers who want to make their business thrive and deliver more for the environment. As it is, the Rural Development Rural Development fund is a more cost effective policy that is delivering real environmental benefits, supporting the production of quality food.“
 
“Many of us who work with sustainable farming across Europe are aghast at the cuts EU leaders have made to funding under Rural Development in the last EU Budget revision. Leaders have shown to bedemonstrated they are in favour of maintaining the heavily funded Direct Payments system which pays farms direct subsidies without any firm benefits.”
 
Links to the publication
 
http://www.wwf.eu/what_we_do/eu_budget/publications_budget/?207684/Voices-from-the-farm
 
 
The Rural Development fund for the period 2007-2013 has four objectives. These are:
1. improving the competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector;
2. improving the environment and the countryside;
3. improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of the rural economy.
4. A further requirement is that some of the funding must support projects based on experience with the Leader Community Initiatives. These are highly individual projects designed and executed by local partnerships to address specific local problems.
 
Link to the EU Commission’s Page on Rural Development
http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/rurdev/index_en.htm
 
Cuts in funding:

Heading of the MFF

Final

2007-2013 MFF

Final compared to 2007-2013 MFF

CAP total

362.8

404

-10.2%

CAP Direct Payments

277.9

307.8

-9.7%

CAP Rural Development

84.9

96.2

-11.7%

 
As we can see from the chart above, cuts made to the targeted and more environmentally oriented Rural Development Fund, 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 are much more severe than those made to the untargeted Direct Payments system. Rural Development receives a bigger cut under the CAP than Direct Payments while Rural Development is only 1/4th of the CAP. This brings us back on previous reforms. Especially now that Member States are allowed to syphon off an additional 15-25% of Rural Development to Direct Payments under a system called “reverse modulation”.
 

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