Agriculture committee MEPs vote for farm income subsidy windfall with bare-bones environmental standards

MEPs on the European Parliament’s Agriculture committee have today voted for income support payments to no longer be subject to the respect of certain minimum environmental standards – a move strongly criticised by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe’s largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations with around 150 organisations in more than 30 countries.

To make matters worse, the Agriculture committee voted in favour of giving farmers extra financial support under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) if they do meet certain environmental standards that have until now been compulsory in order to receive CAP support.

Today’s result is in stark contrast to a vote in February 2019 in the Parliament’s Environment committee [1] when MEPs called for strengthening the allocation of money under the CAP for environmental protection. The agriculture committee ignored its environmental counterpart and voted to strengthen the allocation of money under the CAP to the type of income support that has been proven inefficient at both raising farm incomes and protecting the environment.

Bérénice Dupeux, Agriculture Policy Officer at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said:

“Rather than heed the repeated warnings issued by scientists [2] on the need to significantly reduce meat consumption to avoid dangerous climate breakdown, and citizens’ demands [3] for higher environmental ambition in farm policies, MEPs on the European Parliament’s Agriculture committee have shockingly voted to make an already highly questionable Commission proposal [4] even worse by supporting putting even more public money into the intensive agriculture sector [5] unchecked.

“It seems as if MEPS on the Agriculture committee are unequipped to take into account citizens’ demands and are refusing to face up to the environmental and economic crisis in the agricultural sector and want to forever lock us into a broken farming system. Without real reform, we can no longer justify spending so much of EU taxpayers’ money on this policy. Next month’s change of Parliament and Commission is a chance to change direction on how we farm in Europe and put our framers on track for an agroecological transition.”

ENDS

[1] This is the first time Environment committee MEPs have had an equal say on farm subsidies alongside their Agriculture committee counterparts.

[2] https://ieep.eu/publications/agriculture-and-land-management/future-of-the-cap/cap-2021-27-proposals-for-increasing-its-environmental-and-climate-ambition

https://ieep.eu/news/agriculture-and-land-management/future-of-the-cap/what-is-the-fate-of-environmental-ambition-in-the-proposed-eu-agricultural-policy

[3] So far, over 134,000 people have signed an EU-wide petition demanding a rethink of how we grow, share and consume our food and an end to the current system of EU subsidies which heavily support damaging intensive agriculture. https://act.wemove.eu/campaigns/industrial-farming

[4] Every seven years, there is a chance to change the CAP, and in June 2018 the European Commission published its reform proposal for 2021 to 2027 which was slammed by both environmental groups – who warned it sets the stage for a ‘race to the bottom’ on ecological farm standards – and the EU’s own financial watchdog – who said it didn’t contain a workable approach to monitoring farm practices to ensure these green goals are met.

[5] Nearly €60 billion of EU taxpayers’ money is currently spent on the CAP every year, most of which subsidises industrial farming, with huge amounts of crops grown to feed animals raised in cramp conditions for the ever-growing export market, contributing to the destruction of nature on farmland and the current climate crisis.