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À la carte approach to CAP reform won’t work

1 June 2012

Responding to a report on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee today [1], WWF said that the report did not address the long-term sustainability of farming and the environment in Britain.

Duncan Williamson, programme manager at WWF-UK, said: “The modest proposals put forward by the European Commission to ‘green' the CAP would have been a small step towards protecting the British countryside, protecting the vitality of our rural communities and ensuring that good food is available at an affordable price.

“The Committee’s implication that food security and environmental protection are mutually exclusive is simply wrong; to have a resilient, sustainable food system we have to make sure the two complement each other. Under an à la carte approach to greening the CAP, member states could simply pick and choose the easiest options with the lowest benefits for environment.

“Instead of yet another push for agricultural intensification the EU should encourage more environmentally-friendly farming as the basis for Europe’s food and rural economy of the future.”

WWF also argued that, without the introduction of Ecological Focus Areas, Europe risks losing many of the flora and fauna that are necessary for the countryside to thrive. The group said that rural species are disappearing fast, with populations of farmland bird falling by 49% between 1980 and 2008. In addition freshwater supplies, on which agriculture in some areas depends for up to 80% of its water, are coming under increasing pressure.

Duncan Williamson said: “The current CAP reform proposal is merely supporting the status quo and some payments will still prop up systems of production that are harmful for the environment. It’s also a critical time to embed a fundamental principle for this CAP reform: public money for public goods, as well as the ‘polluter pays’ principle.”

WWF said that, with €53 billion, or 41%, of the total EU budget being paid into the CAP such an expensive policy must deliver value for money. The group argued that the CAP reform must shift from intensive agricultural models to ones that secure and protect the environment, produce good quality foods and build prosperous rural communities.

ENDS

Notes

1. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee: MPs warn EU farm rules will cut food production and may harm environment, 1 June 2012: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/news/greening-the-cap-publication/

For more information:

George Smeeton, Senior Press Officer WWF-UK
Tel: 01483 412 388, Mob: 07917 052 948, email: GSmeeton@wwf.org.uk

St George's Market, Belfast

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