A direction for the Common Agricultural Policy: The Crop Rotation

Brussels

It is too late to change the entire logic of the Common Agricultural Policy which is currently being reformed in the EU, though, the plenary of the European Parliament has the opportunity to get the reform proposal back on track, by reintroducing a green component, focused around real crop rotation.

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) is calling on Members of the European Parliament to vote in favour of crucial amendments able to ensure that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform ‘gets back on the track’ and encourage the development of a European model of farming that we can start to be proud of.

What needs to be done is first of all making future CAP (so-called 1st pillar) payments conditioned on:

  • Application of integrated pest management -re-introducing the sustainable use directive of pesticides into the mandatory cross compliance rules-
  • Application of a simple agronomic package of measures (so-called green component), with
  • Application of crop rotation rather than crop diversification as the pivot point in the greening.

PAN Europe asked Francesco Panella, president of the Italian Beekeepers association (UNAAPI) to explain why it is crucial that the CAP targets crop rotation rather than crop diversification:

“The body of knowledge gained over time has been accumulated and translated into agronomic science, which has been able to identify crop rotation as a determining factor for the preservation of soil fertility and agricultural productivity
Though, the recent tendency to unify the entire agricultural landscape with large spaces dominated by monoculture, years after years the same crop, is not in harmony with but work against nature.
In Europe, the situation of the bees, the insects, the group of invertebrates, as well as amphibians and birds tells us how and how much the distortions of the current agricultural model is a determining factor in the loss of biodiversity, fertility and life.”

Francesco Panella continues saying:
“The only one benefitting from this agro-industrial approach is the companies and persons selling these products, taking advantage of the farmers' well-known fear of not being able to make an income in the short run.
But a change is possible as the case of seed treatment in Italian maize shows. Since 2008 Italian farmers have been forced to replace the so-called "essential" systemic corn seed coats by simple crop rotation. And they are doing fine: to the extend that Italy, in 2011, without systemic insecticide seed coat registered a record production, without damage from pests and – as we have measured –of benefits to honey bees, but probably also to other insects, bumblebees, moths, bats, as well as soil organisms helping to preserve fertility in the years to come.
A different public capacity is needed to support and address the agricultural production methods. It should capture and propose the crop rotation as the base of a sustainable productivity. This is the necessary precondition for the sustainable conversion of the whole European agriculture.”

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Further information

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Contact:
Isabelle Pinzauti – PAN Communications Officer - 0032497695842, isabelle [at] pan-europe.info

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