After years of negotiations, European lawmakers voted to reform the bloc's huge farming subsidy program — the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The farm deal worth €386.6 billion will be implemented from January 1, 2023, and makes up one-third of the EU's budget. It will be the bloc's farming policy till 2027 and aims to meet the EU's climate sustainability goals and support rural development.
It will also ensure fairer payments to farmers by giving €270 billion in direct aid.
"We are ensuring that farmers will be rewarded for their performance, their results," said German Member of the European Parliament Ulrike Müller, speaking at a press conference after the vote.
Speaking to members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, welcomed the CAP reforms. "It will foster a sustainable and competitive agricultural sector that can support the livelihoods of farmers and provide healthy and sustainable food for society, while delivering significantly more in terms of environment and climate," he said.
But the CAP reforms have not been embraced by every EU lawmaker with some of them arguing that it doesn't align with global climate goals and also goes against the interest of small farmers.
German politician and Member of the European Green Party Martin Häusling said, "This is a dark day for environmental policy and EU farmers.”
Michal Wiezik, a Slovak member of the center-right European People's Party, shared a similar sentiment arguing that the only winners of the CAP reforms are oligarchs. "The reform fails to tie into the Biodiversity strategies. This reform should've been the solution, not a source of the problem," he said.
A week before the crucial vote, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg also urged the EU to vote the CAP down.
Many environmental activists and EU officials are unhappy about how the CAP reforms do not align with the EU's Green Deal — a set of proposals unveiled by the European Commission in 2020, to ensure the bloc's climate, energy, transport and taxation policies reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to the 1990 levels.
The new CAP's eco schemes specify that 22% of all CAP payments will cater to green farming from 2023-2024. This threshold will be raised to 25% from 2025-2027. Sommer Ackerman, 24, a young farmer and climate activist based in Finland says, "This deal claims to be 'green,' which is almost laughable."
"Currently, roughly one-third of the EU's budget is being spent on accelerating destruction, making this just another deal on the list of the EU's greenwashing projects. The intensive agricultural model is fueling the climate crisis by causing biodiversity loss, soil degradation, adding to water and air pollution and over extracting natural resources," she told DW.
Read more here.