The new Common Agricultural Policy for the next seven years will be voted in October in the European Parliament. Why is it such an important moment for bees, biodiversity and farmers?
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is one of the most important European policies, making up for more than one third of the European budget (around €380 billion). Based on the principle of direct payments to farmers, the CAP largely defines the type of agricultural model in the European Union. The current CAP, which remunerates farmers according to the size of their exploitation, clearly favours large-scale farms and endangers small-scale, family farming: indeed, under the current CAP package, 80% of payments go to only 20% of farmers. This form of retribution encourages industrial and intensive agriculture, largely reliant on chemical inputs such as synthetic pesticides. This model not only makes small farmers and their traditional livelihood decline at an alarming rate, with more than 30% of small and medium farms disappearing in the last 10 years, it also has a huge impact on landscapes and biodiversity. Intensive and pesticide-based agriculture as promoted by the CAP endanger bees, pollinators and biodiversity as a whole, putting the environment and our food security at risk.
In the coming months, the framework of the new CAP for the next seven years must be approved by the Council of the European Union, the European Parliament and the European Commission. By the end of October, the Parliament will have to vote on the new CAP proposal. What is at stake in this vote is the future protection of the environment and human health for years to come. Indeed, now is the final chance for policymakers to act if we want European agriculture to work with the objectives European Green Deal! This deal, launched by the European Commission in 2020, envisions long-term objectives to make the European Union more sustainable, taking into account the unprecedented calls for climate and environmental action notably expressed by European citizens and called for by scientists. One the promises of the European Green Deal is to reduce pesticide use by 50% in 2030. For the alliance behind the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers”, this proposal remains insufficient to ensure significant protection of health and the environment, but nonetheless welcomes it as an encouraging first step in the necessary transition to a sustainable farming model, one working with nature rather than against it and valuing the work of farmers.
It is crucial that the new CAP to be voted next month lives up to the ambitions of the Green Deal, and beyond. CAP direct payments to farmers must be directly linked to sustainable farming practices to avoid biodiversity collapse and address the social and environmental crisis in our farming practices. The current dominant model of agriculture in the EU is not sustainable, and the time for Agriculture Ministers, Members of the European Parliament and European Commissioners to act is now, before it’s too late. Our alliance will follow closely the debates to come and keep pushing for an agricultural model that is not harmful to bees, farmers and human health!