European Parliament Approves CAP Reform Amid Strong Opposition

Supporters of the new Common Agricultural Policy said it will more fairly distribute funds to small farmers. Opponents said it does too little on climate change.
Dec 6, 2021 11:31 AM EST
Ephantus Mukundi

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The European Parliament has voted to approve the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Union’s mas­sive sub­sidy pro­gram for farm­ers that makes up about one-third of its bud­get.

The agri­cul­tural deal is worth about €387 bil­lion, of which €270 bil­lion will be used for direct pay­ments to farm­ers. Previous iter­a­tions of the CAP have been heav­ily crit­i­cized for giv­ing more sub­si­dies to large farms and agro-indus­trial com­pa­nies.

(The CAP) will fos­ter a sus­tain­able and com­pet­i­tive agri­cul­tural sec­tor that can sup­port the liveli­hoods of farm­ers and pro­vide healthy and sus­tain­able food for soci­ety.- Janusz Wojciechowski, European Agriculture Commissioner

The new CAP will come into force on January 1, 2023, and expire in 2027.

Along with more fairly allo­cat­ing money to Europe’s 6.5 mil­lion farm­ers, advo­cates for the CAP said that it also pro­motes sus­tain­abil­ity in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, which is respon­si­ble for more than 10 per­cent of the bloc’s green­house gas emis­sions.

See Also: Only One Percent of Olive Growers Expected to Lose Funding Under Spain’s New CAP

Farming will be fairer and more sus­tain­able,” said Norbert Lins, who chairs the European Parliament’s agri­cul­ture com­mit­tee, call­ing it the biggest reform since 1992.

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Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg, France, as he wel­comed the reforms, Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Commissioner for Agriculture said the CAP will fos­ter a sus­tain­able and com­pet­i­tive agri­cul­tural sec­tor that can sup­port the liveli­hoods of farm­ers and pro­vide healthy and sus­tain­able food for soci­ety while deliv­er­ing sig­nif­i­cantly more in terms of envi­ron­ment and cli­mate.”

One of the ways in which the new CAP will help pro­mote sus­tain­abil­ity is by requir­ing that 22 per­cent of pay­ments be spent on eco-schemes,” exam­ples of which include pre­serv­ing bio­di­ver­sity and restor­ing native land­scapes, such as wet­lands. By 2025, this fig­ure is set to rise to 25 per­cent.

Another goal of the eco-schemes” is to reduce the sector’s emis­sions by 10 per­cent.

However, the reforms were not embraced by all E.U. law­mak­ers as some felt that they still are not aligned with the inter­ests of small-scale farm­ers and do not do enough to com­bat cli­mate change.

Martin Häusling, an MEP from the European Green Party, went one step fur­ther and called the reforms are the begin­ning of a dark day for envi­ron­ment pol­icy and E.U. farm­ers.”

His sen­ti­ments were echoed by Michal Wiezik, a Slovak mem­ber of the cen­ter-right European People’s Party, who argued that the real win­ners of the CAP reforms were the oli­garchs.”

The reform fails to tie into bio­di­ver­sity strate­gies,” he said. ” This reform should’ve been the solu­tion, not a source of the prob­lem.”



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