Both nature and food security under threat as Member States cave in to misguided farm lobby agenda.
Today, BirdLife Europe and the European Environmental Bureau released two reports with in-depth analyses on how Member States plan to use the subsidies they receive through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to protect and restore nature on farms. The results are shocking: vital environmental schemes are heavily underfunded while poorly designed, or even fake, schemes channel billions of euros into more business-as-usual, destructive farming.
A third of the EU’s total budget until 2027, some 54 billion euros annually, is dispersed via the CAP. Agriculture is the main cause of the biodiversity crisis. Just this week, the UN’s IPCC called for a massive overhaul of how our land is managed. The CAP is a crucial tool to help achieve the EU’s Green Deal, and it has been advertised that it will be used to support farmers in their transition towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices. Our results however, show it will do the exact opposite and will continue to shove farmers down the road towards ecological disaster.
The CAP National Strategic Plans mostly reflect an outdated productivism vision that prioritises yield and short-term gain over environmental considerations. The consequence is limited progress with an insufficient commitment to environmental spending. This flawed logic is now further pushed by European agriculture lobbies. In a bid to thwart any form of climate and environmental benefits through CAP measures, these lobbies are exploiting Russia’s war against Ukraine to push the false narrative that Europe’s “food security” is under threat. Hundreds of scientists have published open calls on the EU to resist the disinformation, stick to the Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy, and focus on reducing the demand to burn cereals for fuel, while making production more resilient to climate disruption. Unfortunately, it seems that agriculture ministers meeting tomorrow to discuss food security are ignoring the scientists and listening to the agroindustry and farm lobby instead
The new reports clearly show that Member States are currently not on track to deliver on the targets and objectives set in the Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy.
According to our assessment, peatland-rich Member States lack strong and appropriate action to safeguard, maintain and restore wet- and peatlands through their CAP national strategies. Peatland restoration is crucial in our fight against the climate crisis – the biggest threat to food production – and to mitigate floods and droughts, which are already wiping up crops and farmers livelihoods across Europe. Rewetting just 3% of EU farmlands could cut agricultural emissions by 25%.
Similarly, most, if not all, Member States are unlikely to reach the Green Deal target of increasing to 10% the agricultural area under high diversity landscape features by 2030. Landscape features such as hedgerows and flower strips, are crucial for pollination, pest control and soil conservation. In their absence, farmers become ever more reliant on pesticides, fertilisers, irrigation, and heavy machinery.
Marilda Dhaskali, EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe:
“Scrapping the last bits of biodiversity on farmlands will not help food security, in the same way that burning your roof to heat your home won’t keep you warm in the long run. Instead, this path will significantly undermine our ability to withstand the catastrophic breakdowns of food systems in the future. New CAP strategic plans must invest in creating space for nature on farms and bolstering the resilience of ecosystems.”
Célia Nyssens, Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture and Food Systems, EEB:
“The new CAP will do close to nothing to protect and restore wetlands and peatlands. The use of drained peatlands in agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and restoring them is easily the single measure which could have the greatest climate benefit, the lowest cost for policy-makers, and the fewest farmers affected. Member States must adopt targets and measures for peatland protection and restoration in their CAP Strategic Plans now, we cannot waste another five years of inaction.”
Notes for editors:
 The EEB-BirdLife analysis on peatlands and wetlands is available here
The EEB-BirdLife analysis on space for nature on farmlands is available here
 Together with national agricultural experts, EEB and BirdLife Europe analysed the draft CAP strategic plans submitted to the European Commission to evaluate how Member States plan to use the elements of CAP green architecture to protect wetlands and peatlands and to create space for nature on farms.
 The latest IPCC report says: “protecting and restoring nature can be a way to adapt to climate change, with benefits for both humans and biodiversity”. There is now clear evidence that nature based solutions provide many benefits and can reduce climate change related risks: Protecting and restoring natural environments – including wetlands and peatlands – helps reducing the risks of climate change as well as supporting biodiversity and storing carbon.
For more information:
Sophia Caiati, EEB Policy Assistant for Agriculture