Draft Common Agricultural Policy legislation proposals - green washing rather than real greening

Brussels

Leaked documents of the European Commission’s plans to reform the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reveal that measures to protect the environment and public health have been severely watered down.

The leaked documents, widely distributed on the internet, are the draft new laws that will govern how farmers are subsidised in the future. Previously suggested commitments to ensure that farmers only receive subsidies if they implement a number of environmental measures have, according to the drafts, been weakened with no guarantee that they will improve biodiversity, public health or the climate. [1]

One of the most effective measures to protect the environment – the rotation of crops on the same field – has been turned into a non-measure in the so-called green component. Proper crop rotation for example, on maize fields including a leguminous crop like peas, beans or clover would not only increase farm diversity and benefit wildlife, it would also help to reduce pesticide dependency and as a result pollinators and citizen health. Crop rotation also benefits soil fertility, reduces fertilizer use and as a result helps to reduce green house gas emissions. Crucially, encouraging farmers to grow more protein animal feeds as part of the rotation would reduce Europe’s dependency on imported soy, a major cause of deforestation, climate emissions and social disputes in South America.

Gergely Simon, president of PAN Europe says:”Crop rotation is essential to make European soil remain fertile in the longer run and as a result a key to ensure food security. Furthermore crop rotation is a key to combat climate change. Crop rotation was already mentioned as a mandatory element of the first pillar payment in the 1999 CAP reform, it is only logical that crop rotation gets at the centre of the green component.” [2]

Stanka Becheva, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe adds: “We believe that an increased production of European protein crops would not only improve European wildlife but also greatly reduce Europe’s devastating dependence on imported soy to feeds its farm animals. Crop rotation within the “greening” is the most effective way to do this. Many farmers already benefit from this measure as well as the environment.

PAN and Friends of the Earth Europe are calling on the Commission for the introduction of strict mandatory environmental, public health and social conditions for direct payments and further support for cultivation and use of home grown protein plants for animal feeds in the legal texts. The minimum of green basis should include:

  • Ensuring that all EU farmers apply a package of measures as part of the greening component, and not as it stands now risk to be another voluntary top up;
  • Within this, crop rotation including legume crop to be introduced where possible as a compliment to crop diversification.

 -- ENDS --

Background notes:

[1] The CAP Communication by the Commission from November 2011 was holding great expectations for a more environmental and public health responsible farming policy mentioning a package of measures like crop rotation, green cover, environmental set aside as compulsory for farmers to get their direct payments. The more detailed plans now show these have been watered down.

[2] Crop rotation where applicable was made a mandatory requirement as part of the Good Agricultural and Environmental conditions defined with COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1782/2003 of 29 September 2003, annex IV, regarding implementation of the 1999 reform.

For further information please contact:

Henriette Christensen, senior policy advisor PAN Europe
Tel: + 32 2 503 08 37, henriette [at] pan-europe.info

Stanka Becheva, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe,
Tel: +32 (0) 2893 1025, stanka.becheva [at] foeeurope.org

© PAN Europe, Rue de la Pacification 67, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, Tel. +32 2 318 62 55

PAN Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, Life+ programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.