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Tracy Worcester's picture

Take action now ahead of crucial vote on 13th March

Take action now ahead of crucial vote on 13th March

On March 13th the future of European agriculture for the next seven years will be decided by the European Parliament when it votes on reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP gives subsidies to EU farmers to help protect them from cheap imports from outside the EU market where labour is cheaper and practices are largely unregulated. However, despite decoupling subsides from specific products and basing them on the area of farms, the last versions of CAP continued to reward economies of scale. The result was that industrial monoculture farming with high inputs of fertilisers and pesticides flourished, undermining small and medium scale farmers and leaving a legacy of depleted soils, decimated bee population, destroyed wildlife habitats, species extinction, inhumane factory livestock production and long term human illnesses from exposure to pesticides.

The Commission proposals try to tackle this disaster with a number of 'greening' measures which farmers would be required to adopt or else lose their area payments. The Commission appears to have understood public attitudes to this. A survey of EU citizens by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) found that 90% felt it was important that farmers deliver public goods in return for their subsidies.

However, after visiting several UK MEPs in the South West Region, the sad truth is that the CAP process has been high-jacked by a coalition of agri-business interests, large farming consortia and a cohort of right-wing MEPs who have a stranglehold over the powerful Agriculture Committee in the European Parliament. These UK MEPs plan to vote to water down the measures and reduce farmers’ obligations to comply with them.

As MEPs are democratically elected, you can write to them pre the vote on the 13th of March (each UK citizen has about 7 MEPs) to show that you care and will only vote them back into power if they support the Commission's greening proposals. At the same time we can vote with our purse by only buying local, sustainably produced food either by seeking out labels that match our conscience i.e. Organic, free range or outdoor bred and reared, or by going to your farmers market or ordering online via small scale farm produce networks such as Big Barn.

Write to your MEP here: http://www.goodfoodgoodfarming.eu/gomad/first-steps.html

tracy worcester
pigbusiness.co.uk