Agricultural reform: what to consider when deciding the budget
We should not forget about farming's economic and social impact when reforming the EU's common agricultural policy, according to the EP's agricultural committee chair Paolo De Castro. The Italian Social Democrat MEP made the plea after his committee voted on plans shaping Parliament's position on the reform ahead of the EU summit on the long-term budget on 7 and 8 February, which will affect how the agriculture policy will be financed. We talked to him about why it is vital to support farmers.
How will the reform of the common agricultural policy help Europe's agricultural sector cope with increasing demand, high energy prices and a volatile market in the long term?
The market is quite unstable because of the increasing food demand. This means that we have to take care of the food security issue much more than we needed to in the past.
The big question is, of course, how to produce more and pollute less, how to produce more while using fewer natural resources. This means we have to invest in innovation, technology and research.
We amended the Commission's proposal in favour of greening, but with less bureaucracy and lower production costs.
How will farmers benefit from greening measures?
We will have a common agricultural policy that is more broadly supported by the public. We need to look after natural resources, but at the same time take into consideration the economic and social aspects. That's why we introduced instruments for managing risks and supporting production organisations.
The common agricultural policy accounts for about 40% of the EU's budget. What is your message to member states as they prepare to negotiate an agreement on the long-term budget in February?
I would like to tell the Council to look at how the agricultural sector in increasing its production and exports while at the same time creating jobs. This means that we have to support the sector, because it is an important contributor to growth and jobs in the EU. This is why I hope they won't cut funding too much, otherwise the compromises we reached in committee, will not survive plenary.