Europe’s agricultural system is broken. It is devastating our climate and the environment, wiping out wildlife, harming public health, and it is failing small and medium sized farmers as well as rural communities. And the main driver behind all this is the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) – one of the EU’s oldest, most influential, most debated and most costly policies.
The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which takes up almost 40% of the EU budget, is a major driver of unsustainable farming in Europe, as it continues to stimulate industrial food production that causes environmental degradation. Unsustainable agriculture is the single biggest driver of biodiversity loss in Europe, causing the depletion of species like farm birds and bees. Evidence shows that our rural areas have lost over 58% of their farm birds, and 24% of European bumblebees are threatened by extinction, with huge economic losses associated. The CAP also fails to address the needs of rural areas: between 2007 and 2013, about 20% of jobs in the farming sector have been lost, with more and more small farmers being put out of business.
The European Commission launched a major online Public Consultation on the future of the CAP which ran until 2 May 2017. With questions facing the EU itself, this was a great moment to show change is both needed and possible! And together we did so! WWF, Birdlife Europe and the European Environmental Bureau launched a large mobilisation called Living Land, an online campaign calling for an EU agricultural policy that protects our climate and environment, is fair for farmers and consumers, and contributes to healthy and sustainable food production. 258,708 people and 600 organisations and businesses representing consumers, the food sector, drinking water providers, and those promoting environmental protection, development, health, and animal welfare joined ‘Living Land’. BirdLife Cyprus participated in this EU-wide campaign as part of our ongoing effort to support truly sustainable and wildlife-friendly agriculture, in a CAP system that benefits small producers and rural communities instead of industrial, environmentally-damaging, farming.
It is essential that as many organisations and individuals, from as wide a variety of sectors and countries as possible, seize this golden opportunity to tell the European Commission that the EU’s food and farming system is broken and that a reformed CAP must be:
- Fair – for farmers and rural communities.
- Environmentally Sustainable – for clean air and water, healthy soil, and thriving plant and animal life.
- Healthy – for good food and the well-being of all people.
- Globally Responsible – for the planet’s climate and sustainable development around the world.
The European Commission is expected to present the results of the public consultation publicly in a Conference in Brussels on 7 July and to publish a communication on the future of the CAP before the end of 2017.