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IFOAM EU Group comments declaration on the future Common Agricultural Policy

At a recent meeting, the Ministers for Agriculture of the European Union agreed on a common declaration for the future of the Common Agriculture Policy CAP. The IFOAM EU Group’s response is that serious steps to tackle these challenges must follow in order to make the 2013 reform of the CAP a real success.

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On June 2, 2009, the Ministers for Agriculture of the European Union agreed  on a common declaration for the future of the Common Agriculture Policy. The IFOAM EU Group’s response to this is that the challenges the agriculture policy is facing - to guarantee food availability while halting loss of biodiversity, climate change, water scarcity, energy supply, and volatility of prices - were well identified by the ministers, but serious steps to tackle these challenges must follow in order to make the 2013 reform of the Common Agricultural Policy CAP a real success.

"In all the last reforms, the steps to make agriculture more sustainable have been nothing but small. Ministers need now to make a serious effort, if they want to make the new CAP in 2013 a success", says Thomas Dosch, Vice President of IFOAM EU.

“Agriculture can guarantee a sufficient, high quality food supply and at the same time deliver environmental performance in tackling climate change, preserving biodiversity and improved water management. But since the market price of food  alone does not pay for environmental services of farmers, a serious shift of money must be foreseen to programmes that allow agriculture to meet the challenges, as identified by the ministers”, according to Dosch. “Agriculture payments will only be justifiable in the future if they are used for services that benefit environment and society.”

Organic agriculture has many assets to offer in order to meet the challenges in all areas that are now discussed. An example on tackling climate change: The CO2 output to produce the wheat for one bread in Austria has been found to be half in organic agriculture compared to the CO2 footprint of the same amount of conventional wheat (1kg bread = 129 g CO2 in organic agriculture compared to 270 g CO2 in conventional agriculture. This difference is mainly caused by the high energy input used for the production of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser in conventional agriculture. Moreover, organic farming increases the content of organic matter in the soil, therefore soils under organic farming can lock up to 1,5 tons CO2 per hectare and year. The examples can be easily continued. “Organic farming must be taken into consideration as a best practice example for modelling the new CAP”, summarises the Vice President of IFOAM EU.

Source: IFOAM EU Group, Press release of June 2, 2009

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