‘Agroecology cannot be developed if direct payments remain allocated per hectare’

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has put forward a comprehensive set of measures to foster agroecology in the EU.

Guillaume Cros, rapporteur of the CoR opinion on agroecology, said that the present pandemic has exposed the “weaknesses of our globalised agriculture and food system”.

“European agriculture needs an agronomic, social and territorial transition that brings along greater sustainability and resilience,” he said.

Agroecology is the answer to the multiple challenges we face: the need to decarbonise our agriculture; reconquer biodiversity; restore soil fertility; and enhance the economic and social resilience of our farms to ensure healthy, local and affordable food for everyone.

“Based on a network of small and middle-size farms, agroecology can also be instrumental in revitalising rural areas across the EU.”

Recommendations

The CoR welcomes the call for a significant transformation in agricultural policy that the European Commission has put forward in the Farm to Fork strategy.

However, the CoR asks that the new law on sustainable food systems announced in the Farm to Fork strategy “integrate a binding legal framework to begin a genuine agroecological transition”.

Based on small and medium-sized farms, agroecology cannot be developed if CAP direct payments remain allocated per hectare and not per active person on the farm.

“The CoR proposes a gradual shift from a basic payment per hectare to a basic payment linked to the number of active persons; and for direct payments to be funnelled as a matter of priority to small and medium-sized agroecological farms.”

Below are a number of the following operational proposals that have been voted by the CoR:

  • The European Commission to propose a new directive on agricultural soils to halt the decrease in organic matter content, stop erosion and prioritise soil life in agricultural practices;
  • Further promote the development of short supply chains and small-scale processing of agricultural products;
  • Expansion of protected agricultural areas, creation of agroecological demonstration farms and tools for monitoring the implementation of the agroecological transition;
  • Introduction of a system of bonuses and penalties as part of the eco-schemes of the CAP.

The CoR opinion on agroecology has been adopted during its plenary session, taking place from February 3 to 5.