New CAP should focus on quality, say organic farmers

Valley Farm, West Wratting. United Kingdom, 2008. [Andrew Stawarz/Flickr]

Organic farmers have urged the European Commission to respond to citizen demand for a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) focused on quality food. EURACTIV Greece reports.

A recent Eurobarometer survey found that the vast majority of EU citizens (94%) consider agriculture and rural areas “important” for their future, a 2% increase compared to the previous survey in November 2013.

>>Read: Spanish farmers among least savvy about CAP

Asked to consider what they think should be the two main responsibilities of farmers, 42% of those surveyed said that “supplying the population with a diversity of quality products” should be a priority. 

Competitiveness vs. quality

Commenting on the results of the survey, the Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM EU) told EURACTIV that the Commission should reconsider the concept of the new CAP.

“CAP’s disproportionate focus on increasing farmers’ competitiveness and promoting export-orientated business models must be rebooted to stop undermining farmer’s livelihoods, the environment and citizens’ demands for high quality, healthy, safe and affordable food,” IFOAM said.

For organic farmers, citizen expectations of the CAP would be better met “with more investments in agro-ecological production systems capable of delivering quality products, green growth and jobs, animal welfare and a healthy environment”.

>>Read: Commission: Organic farming ‘not enough’ to address food security

Conventional farming

Conventional farmers, though, do not share a same view.

Severely hit by the slowing demand from China, together with the Russian embargo against EU agricultural products, they back the new CAP’s export-oriented policy.

According to a German Farmers’ Association (DBV) report for 2014-2015, published in December, the average farm’s income fell by 35% compared to the previous year, to €43,300.

>>Read: Time to reconsider EU sanctions against Moscow, say German farmers

“As other member states, we are looking for other markets outside the EU, with a certain success. It is an ongoing process,” Peter Pascher, DBV’s Head of Unit, told EURACTIV.

Animal welfare

Second priority for EU citizens, according to the survey, should be to “ensure the welfare of farmed animals (35%)”.

The survey stresses that in every EU country with the exception of two (Italy 78% and Romania 74%), more than four out of five respondents believe it is “justified” that farmers should have their subsidy payments reduced if they do not respect animal welfare standards.

The highest percentage were found in Sweden (58%), the Netherlands (56%), and Luxembourg (56%), while the lowest were in Latvia (12%) and Bulgaria (9%).

>>Read: Animal diseases on the rise due to climate change, warns industry

The protection of the environment as EU farmers’ responsibility suffered a 2-point decease, compared with the previous survey, ranking 3rd, with 30%.

"We have long been promoting the importance of European agriculture in providing quality food for 500 million consumers at the same time as ensuring growth and jobs and vibrant rural areas and this survey supports that. I am also pleased to see that consumers appreciate the benefits of forests: absorbing carbon dioxide to fight climate change," Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General, Pekka Pesonen, told EURACTIV.  

European Commission

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