Divided reactions to agreement on European agricultural policy

Climate activists and MEPs who consider the agreement to be substandard, offered fierce resistance to the very end.

Agriculture in line with Green Deal

Agricultural policy, which accounts for a third of the EU budget, has been the subject of fierce competition for three years. Agriculture, which accounts for more than ten percent of European CO2 emissions, should help limit climate change for the first time. While milk, meat and other farm products yield little and some farmers can barely make ends meet.

The pressure grew even more when the EU tightened its climate plans and targets in the meantime. The negotiators faced the difficult task of reconciling the old agricultural plans with that Green Deal.

European income support for farmers will depend for at least 20 percent and later 25 percent on how sustainable they are. Member States can choose for themselves whether they want to encourage organic, precision or agroforestry farming with these so-called eco-regulations.

More subsidy for smaller companies

Stricter requirements are also imposed on the bulk of the subsidies. For example, farmers have to leave more of their land fallow. This helps to prevent the climate, but also the loss of plant and animal species.

Smaller farmers will soon be able to count on a larger portion of the subsidies. In countries such as France, large agricultural barons still take the lion’s share, while small family businesses are struggling. In addition, stricter measures are being taken to ensure that agricultural personnel can work safely.

Opinions in the European Parliament on the consequences of the new policy are divided. There are concerns about farmers’ incomes as well as achieving the agreed climate goals. For example, MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik (CDA) warns that ‘implementation of the sustainability requirements for income support will become quite a challenge for Dutch farmers and horticulturists.’

‘Disastrous policy for the climate’

GroenLinkser Bas Eickhout, however, believes that parliament has now agreed to ‘harmful agricultural policy.’ “Insufficient money is being spent on greening, the conditions are buttery soft and the plans still encourage scaling up.”

The Party for the Animals even calls the new policy disastrous. “This policy will not solve the climate crisis, the biodiversity crisis and the animal welfare crisis, but will actually fuel it further,” says MEP Anja Hazekamp.

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