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 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.
WWF works successfully with farmers and built alliances with the agriculture sector and governments in the region to influence the development of regional policies such as HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan, agricultural policy at national, regional and European level and EU directives. WWF also works to promote behaviour change in other relevant actors across the food production chain in their daily consumption patterns and choices of products.
Redirect harmful subsidiesWith the current Common Agriculture Policy, significant financial support to farmers will continue without requiring much in return in terms of public goods. If this support is 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.
WWF is of the view that 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 proposes 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.
• 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.