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CAP reform - MEPs miss opportunity to overhaul EU agriculture policy

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

The European Parliament held a historic vote to set out the rules for the EU's Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) on 13 March 2013 but unfortunately MEPs failed to vote for a fair and sustainable CAP. The Greens expressed serious regret at the outcome, which the group regards as a missed opportunity for the fundamental reform the CAP needs. Calling for a greener and fairer CAP, several hundred farmers and consumers in colourful costumes from 12 countries came together in Strasbourg on Tuesday 3/12 for a series of actions outside the European Parliament as MEPs held their final debate on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) before the plenary vote on March 13th.
(Picture: Colourful actions in Strasbourg)The Greens/EFA MEPs wish to beat the never ending logic of food scandals. Therefore, as part of the CAP reform package, they made the following proposals to beat this vicious circle:

• support of shorter food chains, decentralised processing and local products through the rural development measures
• support for farmers' organisations so as to strengthen their bargaining position against the dominant market position of traders and supermarket chains
• adaptation of hygiene rules which currently favour industrial food systems and have destroyed decentralised food processing
• crop rotation including leguminous protein plants. This basic farming practice can counter and mitigate climate change thanks to lower use of chemical inputs and smash monocultures. It will also reduce the protein deficit and allow farmers to produce their own feed, with the aim being to replace soy imports
• change of public procurement rules to include criteria like seasonal, local and organic food in public and school refectories
• Guaranteeing support for rural development is also vital for strengthening short-distance food supply chains and quality local production
(Picture: Give family farming and organic agriculture a chance)

„The result of this vote will have a huge impact on the future of our food supply system, on the way we choose to respect populations in southern countries and preserve our planet against climate change for future generations. The Greens/EFA will vote for a CAP that respects farmers and consumers and would put an end to factory farming which leads to food scandals. We hope this call will be shared by our political counterparts.“ That was released the days before the vote.
After the vote, Green MEP and co-chair of the EP's agriculture committee José Bové said: "MEPs have today voted for the CAP to plough ahead unsustainably, with an outcome that is even worse for the environment than, and just as unfair as, the current model. MEPs have utterly failed to seize an historic opportunity to overhaul EU agricultural policy and make the CAP fit for the 21st Century. The fact that this is the first time the EP has had a say on the CAP as a co-decider makes today's outcome even more regrettable. (Picture: Business as usual - MEPs failed to seize an historic opportunity to overhaul EU agricultural policy)

“While MEPs voted in favour of capping direct payments to farmers (See paper by José Bové on capping direct payments and the implications of this) under the CAP, the level set - €300,000 - is ridiculous and far too high to make a difference. Huge farming businesses which do not need the funding will continue to get big pay-cheques, whilst depriving other areas of the CAP from funding, notably for schemes that could be used to promote more sustainable farming", Bové said. (Picture and video: Bové spoke at the rally on Tuesday, March, 12th)






Green agriculture spokesperson Martin Häusling (MEP, Germany) (Picture) added: "The proposals for 'greening' the CAP are not worthy of the name. The plans are voluntary and riddled with exemptions, so they will clearly fail to fundamentally shift EU agriculture to a sustainable path, as they will not be implemented on the vast majority of farms. Instead of real crop rotation with legumes, which is a win-win-win for the environment, soil fertility and lowering farmers' costly dependency on chemicals, the CAP will promote weaker crop 'diversification'. There were some silver linings. Wrongheaded proposals on double-funding, whereby farmers would get paid twice to do the same thing, were deleted. MEPs also voted to support greater transparency of how the CAP budget is distributed. However, this is scant consolation given the bigger picture of today's outcome."

Green agriculture spokesperson Bas Eickhout (MEP, Netherlands) concluded: "MEPs regrettably voted to maintain the damaging export refunds instrument which dumps EU farm products onto fragile markets in developing countries. This was compounded by the failure to provide for measures to monitor the effects of the CAP on long term food production capacity in the least developed countries. Proposals adding rules based on the water framework directive, which would improve the environmental performance of agriculture, also fell. This is clearly at odds with what the public wants and these senseless proposals to use taxpayers' money to fund an outdated system will not be accepted by the public."

„This was a bad day for the diversity of species and landscapes in Europe, for climate change mitigation and for the long overdue adaptation of our farming practices to the global and local needs of environmental and social sustainability. The Parliament did not live up to the demand that public money should be spent for public goods only. The Parliament did not listen to the mounting calls from a very broad range of civil society organisations, ignored their arguments and failed to bring agricultural policy where it belongs: In the center of a broad and serious political debate on all of its aspects such as health, environment, climate change and energy, rural development, global fairness and chances of the next generation, writes Benedikt Hearlin on Arc2020 online (complete statemente here). (Picture: Young people in costumes)

Video: Statement Benny Haerlin:



Instead, nationalistic bargaining arguments as has been the habit of agricultural ministers over the past decades, unfortunately have survived the opening of the CAP to democratic decision making. Agricultural policy, a vast majority of MEPs from all groups seems to have agreed, was simply too complicated and too boring to make a serious effort to understand its impact. The farm lobby had always preached that these 40 percent of the EU budget were incomprehensible and untouchable. Today the majority gave in and handed over the billions to the specialists and their vested interests“, said Haerlin.

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