Will the European Parliament water down sustainable farming in EU’s agricultural policy?
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Will the European Parliament water down sustainable farming in EU’s agricultural policy?

© Compassion in World Farming

The parliament is discussing this week the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Commission’s proposals for greening the policy with a Farm to Fork Strategy. The final vote on the whole package is expected on Friday.

The start of the discussions on Monday, however, was not promising for those who wanted to ensure  more sustainable farming in the EU. A coalition of MEPs from the three biggest political party groups – the European People’s Party (EPP), the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and Renew Europe – voted against a number of amendments to the Commission’s proposal.

Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming, did not mince her words. “What happened now can be easily written in the annals of history as an example of dirty shenanigans in EU politics. By changing the timing of the votes last-minute, some MEPs succeeded in pushing for the interests of industrial farming giants rather than responsible farmers, farmed animals and the environment.”

The Greens/EFA group called for the European Commission to revisit its current CAP proposal to include the Biodiversity Strategy and the Farm to Fork Strategy.
The two strategies should be anchored in the CAP with binding climate targets and the protection of biodiversity.

“Without binding targets for more climate protection, less pesticides in the fields and less antibiotics in livestock farming, the CAP will stand as the very antithesis to the purpose of the Green Deal,” commented MEP Bas Eickhout MEP, Greens/EFA Vice President of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

The first votes in the Parliament were crucial since a majority voted against amendments in the CAP that would have increased animal welfare and limited farm subsidies to intensive factory farming. Among others the amendments concerned the decrease of livestock density, and the exclusion of income support to concentrated animal feeding operations and to feeding animals for bullfighting.

An amendment to ensure the “do not harm” principle in the CAP was also rejected. On the other hand, new articles on the reduction of pesticides, organic farming and social conditionality were accepted.

The Commission proposal includes a recommendation of “Moving to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables.” How this will be translated in the labelling of plant-based food is not clear (see recent op-eds in The Brussels Times for and against “vegan burgers”). A vote on the issue is scheduled for Friday.

M. Apelblat
The Brussels Times