Despite objections from France, the European Commission will maintain current environmental clauses in the European Union’s farm policy. France, the largest agricultural producer in the Union, typically wields a significant amount of influence in the European Commission. The Commission’s overriding of France’s objections demonstrates the seriousness that many European farmers place on agricultural reform.
The main bone of contention, EU spokespeople said, was a series of agricultural regulations designed to create a more sustainable farm policy across the EU. The new policies would require member-states to allocate 30 percent of their agricultural budgets to environmental measures, require 7 percent of farmland to be left free of crops, and would force farmers to better diversify their crops.
French agricultural officials claimed that these regulations would seriously hinder their agricultural sector. Leaving 7 percent of farmland crop-free, they said, would significantly reduce food supplies. Spending 30 percent of agricultural budgets on environmental measures is excessive, they claim, and requiring farmers to diversify their crops would limit farmers’ ability to take advantage of crop booms, specifically the current demand for ethanol-corn.
However, EU officials say that these changes would help better prepare European farmers and economies for major changes to current agricultural models. Leaving farmland free of crops would encourage ecological development and could help combat climate change and biodiversity loss. Spending more on environmental programs and encouraging crop diversity would also go a long way to creating a greener and more sustainable agricultural system.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer