European Parliament gives green light to huge deal on agricultural subsidies

STRASBOURG, France, Nov. 23 (Reuters) – The European Parliament on Tuesday approved the biggest farm subsidy reform in decades, in a vote that transfers money to small farms and rewards sustainable farming methods.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has long been criticized for having handed over the bulk of subsidies to large landowners and agro-industrial companies.

The reform will change that, say its supporters, even though green groups say it is not doing enough to protect the environment and tackle climate change.

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“Agriculture will be fairer and more sustainable,” said Norbert Lins, chairman of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee, calling it the biggest reform since 1992.

The CAP, which accounts for around a third of the EU budget for 2021-2027, will spend € 387 billion ($ 436 billion) in payments to farmers and support for rural development.

The new CAP rules, which will apply from 2023, aim to shift money from intensive farming practices to nature conservation and reduce the 10% of EU greenhouse gases emitted by agriculture.

The reform will require that 20% of payments to farmers from 2023-2024 be devoted to “eco-schemes”, rising to 25% of payments in 2025-2027. It does not define an eco-program, but examples could include restoring wetlands to absorb CO2 or organic farming.

At least 10% of CAP funds will go to small farms and all payments to farmers would be linked to compliance with environmental rules.

The reform also creates a crisis fund of 450 million euros in the event that agricultural markets are disrupted by an emergency such as a pandemic.

Peter Jahr, an EU lawmaker who helped push the deal forward, said it was far from perfect, but at some point compromises had to be made for him to get the green light .

“I urge you, please, in the interest of European farmers, in the interest of the climate, to vote for,” he told the European Parliament earlier today.

($ 1 = 0.8892 euros)

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Written by Ingrid Melander, edited by Timothy Heritage and David Evans

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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