EU Proposes Green Incentives for Farmers

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The European Union executive adopted plans on Thursday that would force farmers to use environmentally friendly practices in order to receive public subsidies.

The focus on green initiatives will be through agricultural choices like rotating crops instead of other costly investments.

The enlargement to 27 countries in the EU is partly what made this reform necessary.

[Dacian Ciolos, EU's Agriculture Commissioner]:
"This is the first time that the CAP is being reformed in a union of 27 members. The enlargement has brought in a lot of wealth and complexity in rural life. The common agricultural policy has to demonstrate that it is capable of managing this diversity without pushing agriculture towards being uniform which is why the link between agriculture and the territory is more important now than ever."

EU farmers' union Copa-Cogeca said the Commission's focus on "greening" EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) risked undermining food production by increasing farmers' costs.

[Mute Schimpf, Friends of the Earth Europe Representative]:
"We need a fundamental shift in the current food and agricultural policy because the current system is not at all sustainable. Europe is a net food importing country, we are not able to feed our own population and one of the reasons is that we import 2/3 of our protein feed mainly from South America."

The views of farm unions carry considerable weight in many national agriculture ministries.

A negative reaction from them could signal difficulties for the Commission when it presents its vision for the reform to EU farm ministers at the end of November.

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