72,000+ people call for real change of EU’s agriculture policy
(Strasbourg, 12th March 2013) As of this morning over 72,000 people across Europe have written to their Members of the European Parliament (MEP) and over 1 million emails have been sent demanding a true reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This comes ahead of important decisions in the Parliament this Wednesday where all MEPs, for the first time ever, will vote for the next CAP that will last for the next seven years.
Citizens joining in this “email action” are worried that the supposed “environmental” benefits promised in this round of agricultural reform will be non-existent and possibly create a worse situation for nature than we have now. The campaign is asking MEPs to block illegal double payments to farmers for identical activities, to introduce robust greening measures that would financially reward farmers for meaningful environmental work, and maintain existing rules that will uphold environmental safety, animal welfare and consumer health.
Only two weeks into the e-mail campaign the overall result is staggering. It shows that the public is solidly behind WWF’s position which calls for public financial support to be directed for farming activities which also maintain the countryside.
Quote from Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office
“The EU Parliament has a historic opportunity during Wednesday’s vote to make the right choice and reject the proposals made earlier by its own Agriculture Committee. MEPs need to support coherent “greening “measures that will help restore a natural balance to the countryside and ensure a long-term future for farming.”
“Our campaign shows that Europe’s public wants a real reform of the agricultural sector. Why should this particular industry be singled out to receive the lion’s share of EU public subsidies – over 57 billion euro per year - if at the same time it continues to be a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, a massive user and polluter of scarce freshwater resources at the same time as altering landscapes, often to the detriment of nature? If the ‘greening’ reform that the public and civil society had come to expect doesn’t take place in this seven year round, it might be the last chance agriculture will get to sit at the subsidy table and receive such generous financial hand-outs.”
“The results of the email action justify WWF’s approach to this campaign. Europeans are angry with how some Parliamentarians on its agriculture committee have steamrolled through a massive policy U-turn. With various food scandals rocking Europe at the moment, farming needs all the public support it can muster. Turning its back on European public opinion in these economically straightened times is not a smart move for the Parliament in its vote next Wednesday or for the farmers it is looking to support.”
Where WWF Stands
1.The Agriculture Committee significantly weakened the European Commission’s proposal to introduce a set of common good farming practices to be applied by all farmers in the EU in return for CAP subsidies (the so called “greening”). The Committee’s proposal would allow Member States to replace the greening practices with weaker measures using questionable certification schemes. In addition to this, the Committee offers further exemptions from greening to many farmers.
2.The Agriculture Committee has proposed illegal double funding for the same environmental measures under both Pillar 1 greening (Direct Payments) and Pillar 2 (Rural Development), article 29. This goes against EU Treaties and is against the good spending of public money and is non-compliant with WTO rules. This could add up to €3 billion of worthless environmental subsidies annually. Money which would be missing for environmental measures in Pillar 2 that go beyond the basic greening requirements and deliver added value.
3.The Agriculture Committee waters down or entirely deletes half of the existing minimum requirements concerning the environment, food safety, animal and public health from cross compliance. The deletion includes legislation, such as the Water Framework and the Pesticides Directives, and public health measures, such as the ban on hormones.
4.The Agriculture Committee does not adequately prioritise High Nature Value farming or organic farming and does not include the necessary positive sub-programmes for these sustainable farming systems, which play a crucial role in protecting the natural environment and supporting rural economies.
5.The Agriculture Committee voted in favour of costly insurance schemes (such as the Income Stabilization Tool) funded by the Rural Development Fund. The Income Stabilization Tool alone could cost up to €11.4 billion while the Rural Development budget is only €12.1 billion annually for 2014-2020. These untargeted support schemes would incentivize risk taking and are only of benefit to insurance companies rather than a support to beneficial farming practices.
Contact: Philippe Carr, WWF European Policy Office,
Media & Communications,
WWF European Policy Office,
Tel: +32 476 25 68 79
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption