Farmers fear EU ammonia cuts policy proposals

European farmers warn that Brussels plans to cut ammonia emissions as much as 30% would have a severe impact on the agriculture sector.

Copa-Cogeca, representing farmers and food co-ops, warned that these plans are expected in the upcoming review of EU air quality policy, and are not realistic, achievable, cost effective, or backed-up by science.

Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said, “We believe that the Commission should recognise the reductions and investment already undertaken by the farm sector.

“For example, ammonia emissions already fell by 22% between 1990 and 2009 to 288,000 tonnes in the UK (excluding natural emissions from wild animals and humans), in Italy by 25% in poultry rearing, and in general by about 20% since 1990 in Germany.

“This is a big step forward and at a big cost to the farm sector. Copa-Cogeca therefore urges the Commission to revise the proposals to find a workable balance between the viability of farming and the contribution to world food security as well as climate change mitigation, air quality, biodiversity, flood risk management and water quality.

The European Environment Agency (EEA), in its latest assessment of air quality in Europe, said emissions of nitrogen oxides and ammonia have fallen by 27% and 7% respectively since 2002.

However, eight member states are breaching legal ceilings, a year after a deadline for compliance, and further measures are needed to reduce emissions of nitrogen, according to the EEA. But the EEA says tiny airborne particles and ozone pose the main threat to European citizens' health and the environment.

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