Today an open letter signed by Slow Food along with 276 other NGOs, including Greenpeace and WWF, has been released asking all EU Members of Parliament (MEPs) to address the way that the current reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been managed by the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI). This is the first time in the CAP reform that so many organizations have come together to collectively voice their concerns, demonstrating the importance of the reform to civil society.
Slow Food is concerned that the current reform has ignored citizens’ calls for a CAP that support small-scale sustainable farming, environmental measures and self-sustaining agriculture in developing countries. In January the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee voted to seriously weaken the proposed ‘greening’ measures that would improve the ecological performance of farms.
The NGOs’ request reflects Slow Food President Carlo Petrini’s own vision. “Our organizations support the principle of public money for public goods in agriculture and rural development policy,” the letter states. “This means public support must only be given to farmers in return for a healthy and vibrant countryside and environmentally benign food production. Subsidies which negatively affect our environment, our health, jobs, developing countries and animal welfare should be abolished.”
The letter also comments on the environmental issues at stake: “Under the AGRI Committee’s vision for the CAP, money would continue to be unfairly distributed and support would be channelled to even the most polluting farming practices, with some farmers even paid twice for the same environmental practices (a principle going against the basic treaties of the EU). In essence, the AGRI Committee’s position goes against the environment, our health, jobs, animal welfare and developing countries. This also goes against the expressed opinions of the other committees in the European Parliament.”
For the first time ever, MEPs will have decision-making power along with the Council to vote for change in agricultural policy. Slow Food is hoping that this letter, and the significance of the number of NGOs that have signed, should be a wakeup call for all MEPs. In March, the full European Parliament will decide upon its final negotiating position. We ask all MEPs to grasp this last opportunity and act on behalf of real public interest.