We need a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that rewards a new set of animal welfare and environmental provisions, harnessing them to power a food system that delivers the food security of tomorrow. This is the message from Eurogroup for Animals to national Agriculture Ministers ahead of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11-12 December 2017 where the recent Commission CAP Communication will be presented.
Dear Agriculture Ministers,
We would like to bring your attention to the European Commission’s recent Communication Paper on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2020 – “The Future of Food and Farming”.
The upcoming CAP reform should serve as an opportunity for the European Commission to lead by example, to make farming more durable and sustainable. But with the Commission Paper only marginally referring to animal welfare against the background of only 1.57 percent of CAP subsidies currently directed towards improving welfare, it seems the Commission has no intention to address this. Approximately 40 percent of the EU’s taxpayers’ contributions currently goes to agricultural support through the CAP, and the Commission should make sure that the new legislative framework mirrors the expectation of the 94 percent of EU citizens that want to improve the conditions of animals.
The CAP should be reformed now to ensure higher welfare animal products and a fair income for farmers. Today’s food production systems compromise the capacity of the planet to produce food in the future. We expect the future legislative framework to be coherent with the Europe 2020 Strategy – A resource-efficient Europe, calling for a change in the consumption patterns and an optimisation of the production processes. To guarantee sufficient healthy food for the world’s growing population we urge a Future CAP that overhauls the European agricultural business model, promoting plant-based diets.
Currently 8.6 billion land animals are raised every year for food in the EU, for a population that eats more than twice as much meat as we did 30 years ago. These animals need vast amounts of food and water, emit methane and other greenhouse gases and produce mountains of physical waste. The FAO has previously calculated that the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat stands at 18 percent of the global total. To make matters worse, the current CAP has only incentivised the increasing trend towards large-scale intensified farming that is so bad both for the environment and animal welfare.
We need a CAP that rewards a new set of animal welfare and environmental provisions, harnessing them to power a food system that delivers the food security of tomorrow. Whilst there are small concessions in this direction in the Communication Paper, notably where possible caps of direct payments are proposed, such notions are immediately undermined by the possibility of co-financing, which would allow Member states to subsidise programmes that are potentially far away from animal welfare and sustainability objectives. The absence of detail on the basic policy parameters that the Commission would use to frame national programmes makes it difficult to judge if such measure would effectively support good farming practices. Such open-ended flexibility would only endanger the smooth functioning of the internal market for agricultural and food products without ensuring the harmonised distribution of standards we aim to achieve.
Although we would support a greater share of direct payments going to smaller farms, redistribution of subsidies should start from an evaluation of a farm’s contribution towards animal and environment-friendly production, instead of looking only at a farm’s size.
The Commission now has the opportunity to harness this goodwill and to create a truly sustainable CAP. We call on all Agricultural Ministers to echo these sentiments to the Commission at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11-12 December 2017.
We thank you in advance.
Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals
and on behalf of our 60 member organisations in 24 EU Member States, the USA, Switzerland, Australia, Serbia and Norway.