Europe and Central Asia
19 Oct 2020

Press release: EU governments fail to address the crisis in farming and food policies

Commission has vision of a greener Europe, but shies away from revealing concrete plans

© BirdLife Europe and Central Asia / Shutterstock
By Honey Kohan

19 Oct 2020, Luxembourg/Brussels

Today, the Luxembourgish agriculture campaign network Meng Landwirtschaft - Mäi Choix protested outside the agriculture Council meeting to criticise EU governments for stalling EU food and farming reforms [1]. The protest echoed the voices of many across Europe and took place as agriculture ministers are said to reach political agreement on the EU agriculture reform package.

European farmers, food activists and environmental campaigners join forces throughout the month of October under the banner of Good Food Good Farming to demand better food and farming policies.

Mathieu Wittmann from Meng Landwirtschaft - Mäi Choix said: “Change is needed and wanted. In March, 3600 scientists called for an overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy and warned that change is urgently needed to reverse damage, restore nature and maintain a sustainable yield. [2] We are protesting on behalf of thousands of farmers and people demanding agricultural reforms across Europe. Another seven years of a CAP that fails to effectively combat the agroecological, biodiversity- and climate-related challenges is an act of sabotage. We call on ministers and Members of the European Parliament to support the transition to sustainable farming, keep farmers in their job and quit support for agroindustries”.

Elisabeth Fresen, farmer in Northern Germany and Chairwoman of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft, commented: “Our farms are facing huge changes in the interest of more environmental protection and animal welfare. The emerging compromises in Council and Parliament will not deliver the financial support we need to meet these challenges. We therefore, once again, call on all decision-makers to back annual increases in the share of CAP money earmarked for effective environmental and animal welfare measures delivered by farmers. It is the only way to secure the necessary transformation.”

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe: “The intensive farm lobby clearly has a stranglehold over the Council, and many of the lead MEPs. But we would never have expected that political groups, especially the Socialist and Renew Groups, that one week ago were supporting increased climate ambition would the following week be voting against nature and climate action. We have to judge the compromise deal of the main groups in the EU parliament by its impact on climate and biodiversity, and it is clear that it will do more harm than good in the coming crucial decade. MEPs must vote with their conscience.”

Current state of negotiations:

Agricultural ministers are due to reach political agreement on the CAP reform proposals. Ministers are expected to maintain the controversial per hectare payments, minimise the foreseen aid for environment and climate measures and ecoschemes. The European Parliament will vote on its position on Wednesday. Compromise amendments jointly tabled by the Conservatives, Socialists and Liberals weakens the Commission proposal.

Good Food Good Farming campaign:

During the month of October, civil society and farming organisations are hosting around 70 events and protests in 12 European countries to support the transition to good food, sustainable farming and resilient livelihoods. The European Days of Action for Good Food Good Farming have challenged decision-makers to deliver solutions during the CAP reform since 2018, bringing together more than 300 organisations from 22 European countries. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s activity map includes a diverse set of street protests, farm visits and online conferences:
 https://www.goodfoodgoodfarming.eu/#actions

ENDS.

Notes for editors:

[1] Photos of the protest are available on 19 October from 12p.m. noon here: https://t1p.de/e6zn

[2] 3600 scientists called for an overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy, https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/pan3.10080

For more information, please contact:

Mathieu Wittmann, Political affairs officer at natur&ëmwelt, member of Meng Landwirtschaft - Mäi Choix Luxembourg. Meng Landwirtschaft is a network of 22 civil society organisations, advocating for a sustainable, organic, healthy and socially fair agriculture and food production system.
+352 29 04 04 1
m.wittmann@naturemwelt.lu

Honey Kohan, Media Officer at BirdLife Europe which is working closely on current developments in the negotiations on the CAP
+32 (0) 483 55 95 43
honey.kohan@birdlife.org

Elisabeth Fresen, Chair of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL e.V.), the German small-scale farmers union, which is a member of La Via Campesina and the German agriculture reform network Wir haben es satt! 
+49 (0)163 970 96 45

elisabeth.fresen@posteo.de [Interviews only in German]



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. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.