Friday, December 2, 2011

Greener Agriculture Policy in Europe

The European Commission has proposed a greener Common Agriculture Policy for the European Union.  Conventional farming organizations have criticized the commission's proposals for a greener agriculture policy, but European organic farmers view the proposed changes as positive steps toward sustainable agriculture.  The Agricultural Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos has defended the proposed changes which encourage farmers to rotate crops, set aside permanent pasture and create woodlands or buffer zones as part of the European annual farm support program that constitutes 40% of EU spending. 
Dacian Ciolos, EU Agriculture Commissioner
If it undergoes the proposed reforms, the program would use 30% of direct payments to promote conservation measures - an investment of about 11 billion euros. 
Currently only about 5% of EU farmland is organic (which is actually pretty high in comparison to the United States' 0.6% of farmland being organic).
Ciolos' defense of the program is the part that American consumers, voters and legislators might want to consider.  "A major objective of the reform is to provide the tools to provide both growth in agriculture and sustainability . . . If not, it is difficult to justify the CAP as a public policy."   For a public policy, to be truly in the interest of the general public, it must work to improve agricultural yield (which practices like crop rotation have done for hundreds of years), and the quality of the soil, water and air of where people live (which can be achieved by using fewer synthetic chemicals and allowing buffers between farmland and water systems).  Support for sustainable farming isn't in the interest of organic farmers as much as it is in the interest of generations to come, the environment, and farming communities. The American Farm Bill seems to be focused more on supporting the well-being of agricultural corporations, national food service providers, and grocery chains.

Have a good weekend!

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