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New €435bn EU farming package continues support for destructive practices

Commission fails on promise to green the Common Agricultural Policy

Press release - October 12, 2011
Brussels - A plan unveiled today by the European Commission for a once-in-a-generation reform of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be unable to respond to the environmental challenges facing food production and could waste billions of taxpayers’ money, warned Greenpeace.

Cows on grass at "de Groene Geer" ecological farmhouse near Leerdam in the Netherlands

Despite pledging to “green the CAP”, the Commission has failed to address the severe environmental challenges affecting farming, such as the depletion of natural resources, the effects of climate change and threats to wildlife, said Greenpeace.[1] The Commission wants to allocate over €435 billion for the new CAP (2014-2020), 36% of the total EU budget.

Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director, said: “What Europe needs to save its food is nothing short of a seismic shift away from polluting and socially destructive industrial agriculture. But what the Commission has hatched today is bad news for the environment, bad news for taxpayers and bad news for farmers who want to produce food responsibly. If it's left unchanged, the plan will allow the agri-chemical business to keep a firm lock on the food chain. Unless the European parliament and governments strengthen this proposal, the EU will spend €435 billion of taxpayers’ money to continue polluting nature and pumping our food full of chemicals. This is quite simply unjustifiable.”

The Commission has announced new greening measures to increase crop diversity to at least three crops per farm and protect permanent pastures. However, many of these measures – which will account for about 30% of the CAP budget – are just skin deep: farmers will still be allowed to grow one crop on as much as 70% of their land and pastures will only be protected after 2014, allowing farmers to convert them to agricultural land before the cut-off date. The measures also fail to promote crop rotation, which can do more for the environment than limited crop diversity, and do not tackle the excessive use of chemicals in agriculture. Rotating crops while also growing a wide diversity of species reduces vulnerability to pests, floods and droughts, improves soil fertility and reduces the need for chemical pesticides and fertilisers.

Substantial direct payments will still be allowed to go to destructive industrial farming operations, including to the production of energy crops such as biofuels with no guarantees on their sustainability.

In a more positive move, the Commission wants farmers to spare up to 7% of agricultural land as ecologically managed areas. Setting aside land is not a novelty: until 2008, the EU ruled that 10% of land should not be cultivated.

But Greenpeace warns that the proposal also fails to tackle the substantial environmental and climate impact of the livestock sector. In particular, it fails to address the intensification of meat and dairy production by promoting sustainable feed for animals and outdoor grazing on grass.


Note to editors:

[1] Factsheets: The Truth behind the CAP: 13 reasons to green the CAP:




Marco Contiero – Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director: +32 (0)477 777034,

Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications manager: +32 (0)496 156229,


For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.