Green MEP says CAP reform proposals are ‘missed opportunity for fundamental reform’

19 October 2011

On a visit to an organic farm in Oxfordshire today Keith Taylor, Green MEP for Oxfordshire and the South East highlighted the missed opportunities in the proposed reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. Keith raised the need for EU measures to promote more environmentally sustainable farming systems and higher animal welfare standards.

On Wednesday the European Commission announced plans to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Reforms include giving small landowners in remote areas more financial assistance and reducing the payments made to large landowners. The reforms will also require farmers to carry out certain environmental measures to receive subsidies. 30% of current direct payments to farmers will be conditional on farmers doing more to protect the environment, such as leaving 7-10 per cent of land without crops on it, ensuring arable farms grow at least three crops and extending hedgerows.

Keith and his fellow Green MEPs have argued for stronger measures in the CAP to promote more environmentally sustainable farming systems. Despite widespread support from EU citizens for local and environmental friendly farming, the European Commission’s proposals continue supporting factory farming, which creates high climate emissions and perpetuates poor animal welfare standards. Keith has been working in the UK to raise the issue of poor animal welfare with the UK’s major supermarkets and has called on them to sell either free range meat or meat produced to RSPCA ‘Freedom Food’ standards.

Keith said: “British organic farms are a great example of an approach to food production which is less harmful to the environment, protects biodiversity and ensures a higher level of animal welfare. This week the European Commission proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy which are a step in the right direction, but represent a missed opportunity for fundamental reform of farming in the UK. Sustainable farming and food systems are crucial for tackling the challenges agriculture is now confronted with, like climate change, loss of biodiversity and water and soil protection.

Keith continued: “The Common Agricultural Policy should be a vital tool to promote sustainable agriculture and fair incomes for farmers and the Commission’s proposals represent a missed opportunity for fundamental reform. But this is not the end of the road; the proposals will go to the European Parliament later this month. I will work with my Green colleagues to press for a European agriculture policy which takes seriously the challenge of fighting climate change, protecting biodiversity and promoting a food system that offers healthy food and fair distribution of public money for all.”

Keith added: “It’s fantastic that organic farms, such as Step Farm, have such a high regard for animal welfare. I believe all consumers have a right to know that the meat they eat has not been produced in a way that has a detrimental impact on animal welfare. Earlier this year I wrote to the EU Commission to ask them to put pressure on EU member states to fully enforce the Pigs Directive, which sets out pig welfare standards and I am determined to continue to press for better conditions in our farms.”

Keith was visiting Step Farm in Faringdon to meet with farmer Daphne Saunders to discuss animal welfare issues and the reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural policy. Step Farm is a 345 hectare mixed farm in the upper Thames valley near Faringdon, where the Saunders family have been producing food organically since 1982. They have a mixture of enterprises including dairy cows, sheep, beef and cereals. Step Farm has a doorstep milk delivery scheme operating in Oxfordshire and its shop supplies organic beef and lamb.


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