Commission and UK government must do more for small farmers

Molly and the Greens in Europe have called for much greater support for small farmers as the European Commission publishes a plan for the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Molly, who sits on the Agriculture Committee in the European Parliament, said:

“The business-as-usual approach of the Commission is deeply disappointing. The CAP must not be there simply to subsidise industrial farming and big agribusiness at the taxpayers’ expense. We need to see redistribution of EU funds away from mega-farms and wealthy landowners and towards the small and part-time farmers who are at risk of disappearing from Europe’s agricultural economy.

 “The future of agriculture and farming communities depends upon rural infrastructure investment. Instead, the Commission wants to enable the leakage of public money towards financiers and insurers, which risks leaving the fundamental challenges unsolved. Adapting farming practices is the best way to face climate change and ensure long-term productivity, and the CAP should incentivise and reward farmers making the transition towards sustainable and resilient systems.

“The ultimate measure of the CAP will be if it delivers healthy and sustainable food for people across the EU while ensuring the livelihoods of rural communities. If we are to achieve this, farmers need fair prices and a stronger position in the supply chain. No EU country can hope to meet the social, environmental and economic challenges facing farming alone. The CAP must be genuinely common, not a series of individual national policies.

“This is why I continue to believe that the best place for UK farmers and food producers is inside the EU, and in particular inside the single market as around 65% of total UK agricultural exports go to the EU.

“Michael Gove, as one of the principle architects of Brexit has pledged that in future he wants subsidies paid on the basis of social and environmental benefits rather than just going to rich landowners. This is a policy long championed by Greens across Europe. A key test of whether we can move the Environment secretary out of special measures and whether he is genuine about a Green Brexit will be the extent to which he supports small farmers and the rural economy.”