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EU farming unions push back at greenwashing criticisms

26 October 2020

After the European Parliament adopted new proposals under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), environmental groups said that the policy was greenwashing climate commitments.

In a press release issued on 23 October, EU farming union Copa and Cogeca responded to charges that the new CAP measures did not sufficiently address the EU's climate challenges.

 

The organisations highlighted that under the new policy, European farmers and agri-cooperatives have to meet multiple benchmarks, including: 

  • Allocating 30 percent of their support to eco-schemes, dedicated not only to the environment and climate but also including further improvements to animal welfare - which goes beyond the original proposal made by the Commission.
  • Making viable progress through eco-schemes regarding actions concerning the climate, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing carbon sequestration, improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, reducing emissions, improving and protecting biodiversity, reducing the use of plant protection products, improving animal welfare, the nutrient management plan, improving animal and plant diversity and maintenance of wetlands and peatlands amongst others.
  • Dedicating 10 percent of arable land to non-productive landscape elements that are beneficial to biodiversity. Only half of this target will receive support through eco-schemes and agri-environmental climate measures, the other half will be mandatory for all farmers, without further support.
  • Receiving less support for areas with natural constraints – a vital part of rural areas – which only remain viable, socially vibrant and preserved through CAP funding.
  • Maintaining permanent grassland on national, regional, sub-regional and holding levels with a maximum variation of 5 percent (without further support).
  • Effectively protecting wetlands and peatlands (without further support).
  • Implementing crop rotation without consideration of farm size, permanent crops and crops grown underwater (without further support).
  • Implementing new statutory management requirements for water policy, for animal diseases and for sustainable use of pesticides (without further support).

The groups stress that these new benchmarks are a deviation from the status quo, and that groups saying that these measures are insufficient "lack in-the-field experience". If this CAP had not been supported by the European Parliament, no progress would have been made in the years to come.

In spite of all the criticism, in spite of the complexity brought about by climate change, in spite of the low incomes, in spite of the severe impacts of COVID-19 and the upcoming Brexit deal – at the end of the day the reality is that farmers are constantly increasing their efforts.

"With all due respect for certain activists... we will continue to defend with determination a transition that reconciles agricultural production and environmental conservation for millions of EU farmers."

Copa and Cogeca told the press that the messages and the incredible amount of misinformation on social media and in the press against the farming community have overstepped many limits. Despite all the pressure and intimidations, MEPs have assumed a responsible position that will soon allow farmers to work within a clear framework and provide the stability necessary for them to plan ahead, invest and respond to societal demands while earning a living for themselves and their families.



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