EU nations back green farming initiatives

21 Oct 2020

Agriculture ministers in the EU have reached an agreement to allocate part of the bloc’s farming policy budget to environmentally friendly schemes.

The European Union is currently coming to the end of a two-year struggle to revamp its agriculture policy, in an attempt to bring it in line with climate change commitments, whilst at the same time protecting farmers´ livelihoods.

The entire agriculture policy will utilise approximately a third of the EU’s €1.1 trillion budget for between 2021 and 2027, to be divided between direct payments to farmers and rural development support, Reuters reports.

EU ministers came to an agreement that 20% of the payments to be allocated to farmers would go toward green initiatives including organic farming or agroforestry. The funds could not be accessed by farmers for other reasons.

The policy comes into effect as from 2023, with ministers agreeing a two-year pilot stage for the green initiatives, which would mean they become binding in 2025.

However, several countries have flagged up worries that tying funds to environmental schemes could leave the money unspent.

German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner commented: “We can’t simply leave it up to member states to decide whether or not eco-schemes are used and, if so, what money will be made available”.

The EU environment agency said earlier this week that agriculture is the most reported threat to nature within Europe, with campaigners saying the 20% share for green schemes is not sufficient.

WWF senior policy officer Jabier Ruiz stated: “Agriculture ministers are largely perpetuating a farm policy which will throw taxpayers’ money at polluting, industrialised agriculture until at least 2027.”

Now it is up to EU countries to come to an agreement with European Parliament and the European Commission on the rules. Voting is taking place in parliament during this week.