“What we need is a substantial reform in the way we manage our land around the Baltic Sea.”

A wheat field with the Baltic Sea in the background. 
	© Imke Schulze / iStockPhoto
A wheat field with the Baltic Sea in the background.
© Imke Schulze / iStockPhoto
A major solution to the problem of eutrophication lies on the land and in the promotion of more sustainable farming and land management practices.
Many farmers are committed to caring for the environment and making active choices to use greener agricultural methods. But in order to stop harmful practices on a large scale a reform of agricultural policies within the EU is necessary.  Financial support to the agricultural sector accounts for almost half of the EU budget. Agricultural policies and subsidies to farmers within the EU have long been obstacles to reaching the goal of a more environmentally friendly agriculture, since they promote practices that are not sustainable. The proposed reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which has recently been elaborated by the EU Commission does not go far enough to ensure a greener European agriculture.

With the recent proposal, significant financial support to farmers will continue without requiring much in return in terms of public goods. WWF has another vision. If this support is instead used to reach agreed environmental, social and economic objectives, instead of locking it up in a system of environmentally harmful subsidies, we could both save the Baltic Sea and make better use of taxpayers’ money.

Subsidies should only go to farmers who can clearly prove that they have taken concrete measures to provide environmental benefits to society as a whole. As an alternative to existing policies WWF has proposed that by following a few simple principles, a sustainable European agriculture would be within reach.

Public payments for public goods. Public money should only be used for provision of public goods such as sustainable water management, preservation of biodiversity, maintenance of cultural and historic landscapes, rural employment and public access to rural areas.

Payments linked to clear objectives and targets. A thorough evaluation of each subsidy is necessary to see if it delivers the sustainability objectives.

Fair and transparent distribution of funding. The size of subsidies given to farmers who deliver public goods should be equal and neither depend on nationality nor on the division between old and new member states. Payments should be transparent and allow public scrutiny.

Information on payments should be available in the public domain. This ensures that the use of public funds is transparent and open to public scrutiny.

To highlight the importance of sustainable farming and promote farmers who contribute to the fight against eutrophication by reducing nutrient losses from their farms, WWF and Swedbank, together with the Baltic Farmers Forum for the Environment (BFFE) and farmers organizations around the Baltic Sea, launched the “WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award in 2009”.

	© WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
WWF Vision for CAP Reform
© WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme

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