EU small farmers want priority in CAP funds

Genevieve Savigny, a small farmer and representative of the European Coordination Via Campesina.

Sustainable small farmers should be put at the core of EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), states a paper released by a pan-European coalition of farmers.

The Nyeleni Europe and Central Asia Platform for Food Sovereignty says the EU can protect environmentally sustainable food production by using CAP to protect family farms and small production units over large factory farm models.

The network of small farmer groups has sent a report to the European Parliament ahead of the EU’s agriculture and rural development committee gathering in Brussels today for two days of talks on the next CAP.

The groups represent the views on CAP of a pan-European coalition of farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples and environmental organisations.

Genevieve Savigny, a small farmer and representative of the European Coordination Via Campesina, said: “The CAP must provide small-scale sustainable producers with the adequate political, economic and social support they need. This implies fair prices, setting a capping for direct payments and a redistribution of aid.

“Currently, less than 2% of CAP beneficiaries receive 30% of the total budget of direct payments. This must change. More money for rural development and a collective approach of projects where peasant agroecology is promoted. And for our youth? Support to new farmers during the first years of their activity is essential.”

The groups’ report highlights the demise of family farm units in Europe, where the number of farm holdings under 50 hectares fell by 29.4% from 2005 to 2016. More than four million holdings disappeared in just 10 years.

The report also highlights the increased numbers of seasonal, and often migrant workers suffer appalling working and living conditions.

Other key points include: The impact on public health from pollution linked to increased use of agrochemicals on factory farms; antibiotic use in animal farming leading to antimicrobial resistance; and the 88 million tons of food waste generated each year due to the industrial food chain.

Stanka Becheva, food sovereignty campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “With the world facing multiple environmental and social crises, many of which are directly linked to how we feed ourselves, EU politicians need to listen to small-scale sustainable farmers who can help fix the climate crisis and the breakdown of the natural world.

“The food systems they create provide healthy, affordable, and local food for consumers, respects nature and climate, and create safe and dignified employment.”

The small farmer groups also argue that CAP has made the EU deeply dependent on cheap imports from regions with far lower environmental and social standards.

The network has urged the European Parliament’s agriculture committee to vote to impose a cap on payments to big farms, and to maximise redistribution of direct support to small and medium farms.

The groups have urged the EU to issue a clear signal that land concentration and expansion are not the way forward.

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