Delivering the EU’s flagship ‘Green Deal’ policy will be impossible without the transformation of Europe’s farming policy, environmental campaigners have warned agriculture ministers ahead of a crucial meeting.

A coalition of fifteen organisations has written to Jari Leppä, the Finnish farming minister and current chair of the EU’s Agriculture council. The letter slams moves by governments, who the groups accuse of wanting to weaken rules on climate, environment and biodiversity.

Célia Nyssens, an agriculture policy expert at the EEB told META:

“Just as we need to see real efforts to ensure farmers can produce good food in a sustainable and nature-friendly way, European governments are threatening to weaken the already insufficient rules we have now. To transform agriculture from being part of the problem to part of the solution, we need to look at all aspects of the way food is produced.”

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which accounts for around 40% of the EU’s total budget and an annual cost of €50bn, is currently under review.

Brussels was rocked this week by the publication of a year-long New York Times investigation which revealed the extensive misuse of CAP funds and strongly criticised the lack of transparency around payments to farmers.

The journalist investigating the CAP for the New York Times was damning in his assessment. Writing that: “Europe’s farm subsidies are being used to prop up oligarchs, underwrite Mafia-style land grabs and create a modern spin on a corrupt feudal system.”

Campaigners want to see the CAP transformed so that the billions of Euros of public money is used to help farmers transition to less-intensive farming methods that help prevent climate breakdown, support nature and protect soil, water and air.

One headline demand is that 10% of all farmland be set aside for ‘green infrastructure’ like hedges, flower margins, buffer strips, and wetlands.

The joint letter also demands effective measures are introduced to protect wetlands and peatlands, which are essential nature carbon stores. It also rejects plans to cut the requirement to rotate crops, which it describes as “a critical and effective technique that reduces the use of pesticides and maintains healthy soil.”

EU Agriculture ministers will meet in Brussels on 18 November.

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