Cap deal needs to support farming that helps nature
31 May 2013
Anja Murray, The Irish Times
'Support Farming to Support Nature" has been the mantra of environmental NGO BirdWatch Ireland and its global partnership, BirdLife International. Our concern is that negotiations taking place now for a new European policy that will shape the landscape and environment we live in risk taking us backwards rather than forwards in delivering food that doesn't damage the ecological systems we depend on for water, nature and a range of public benefits. The huge amount of public funding associated with this policy needs to bring better value for money.
Ireland is rapidly losing some of our most iconic farmland birds as nature is increasingly under threat from changes in farming. The reform of the European Common Agricultural Policy (Cap) promised to do more to save treasured landscapes and wildlife and, in doing so, justify the huge public cost of the policy.
However, pressure from powerful farm lobby groups is taking the reform in a direction which will instead continue to hand out most of the annual €53 billion Cap budget to the larger and more intensive farms rather than benefiting smaller farms and ecologically friendly production. Ireland, hosting the presidency of the EU, is playing a key role in this debate at the moment.