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Walloon farmers snub agro-environmental measures

© Belga

Agro-environmental and Climatic Methods (MAEC), the tool to encourage farmers to act in a planet-friendly way, is struggling to win over Walloon farmers., La Libre Belgique reported on Wednesday.

The adhesion rate of farmers to these measures went from 55% in 2013 to 45% in 2018.

The voluntary programme is nonetheless essential to preserve biodiversity, bringing together agricultural practices favourable to the environment, along with heritage and landscape conservation in agricultural areas. It contains, for example, provision for the creation of ponds, the use of threatened local breeds and the maintenance of hedgerows.

“There is a real rift here between those who are taking part in the programme and those who are not. A section of the agricultural world does not seem to be at all receptive to this approach and displays a lack of interest in the matter,” Daniel Delvaux, project head and coordinator at Inter-Environnement Wallonie, complained in La Libre Belgique.

For Thierri Walot, project head at UCLouvain, the insufficient financial appeal of many MAEC largely explains the programme’s limited success over the last three years.

Psychological barriers might also help to explain the reluctance of some farmers. “When a farmer embraces this profession, it is above all because he is a producer. With most MAEC, he will be asked to produce less or not to produce at all, which goes against his gut feelings,” Pierre-Yves Bontemps, MAEC advisor coordinator for Natagriwal (an association responsible for supporting farmers), considered.

The Brussels Times