Advocating for sustainable agriculture


Farmers manage over half the land in Europe and everybody is affected by how this land is managed. Farming provides us with food and various other products, and at the same time it produces public goods and services such as wildlife habitats, attractive landscapes, watershed management and carbon retention. On the other hand, agriculture is considered to be the most important factor driving biodiversity loss.

BirdLife Europe has noticed that farmland birds are the most threatened birds, and the same goes for butterflies, bees, other pollinating insects, annual plants and many other groups. More widely, agriculture is one of the main sectors threatening the environment, among others through water pollution and depletion, soil degradation and GHG emissions. In the long term, preserving our agro ecosystems is the best way to ensure our future food production, the most fundamental of human needs.

A dysfunctional and wasteful Common Agriculture Policy

Despite subsequent rounds of reform, the subsidies system and the farming practices supported by the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) have remained dysfunctional and wasteful. The CAP represents more than 40% of the European Union’s budget but it keeps subsidising harmful farming practices while not addressing the plight of High Nature Value farming systems and providing only minimal funding to support sustainable farming. BirdLife Europe has been calling on the European Union for many years to reform the CAP, to ensure that EU citizen’s money is used to support the provision of the public goods they need.

A new CAP in 2014

The latest round of CAP reform has almost been finalized. Expectations are that in the fall of 2013, the European Parliament and the Agriculture Council will agree with the outcomes negotiated earlier in the year. That then brings all actors to the next important stage where the real success of this round of reform will be decided: implementation. Whether the new greening mechanism of direct income support or the adjusted Rural Development Programmes will deliver for biodiversity will depend in the first place on how well national and regional governments, farmers and stakeholders in the field, will turn those rules into practice. BirdLife Europe and its partnership will be very much involved in this process to ensure that we get as close as possible to an agriculture system that we believe in, one that is coherent, fair, sustainable, more respectful of the environment and ensuring the durability and prosperity of agriculture in Europe.

Our advocacy work for a sustainable CAP is supported by the MAVA Foundation. Created in 1994, MAVA's mission is to engage in strong partnerships to conserve biodiversity for future generations.

Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.

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