It is the last day of the European Elections. While a few countries of the European Union have organized the vote between Thursday and Saturday, the majority of Member States will elect their representatives to the European Parliament today. Slow Food Europe calls everyone to vote for the candidates who respect European values and care about the future of European agriculture, food, and the environment.
The latest Eurobarometer survey has shown that over 60 % of Europeans believe neither national governments nor the EU are doing enough to protect the environment, and 67 % (up 7 % on 2014) think that decisions about protecting the environment should be made jointly within the EU.
However, the 2014 European Parliament elections saw historically low voter turnout, averaging at 42.61% across Europe; with only about one in four young Europeans (18-24- year-olds) voting in the elections. We cannot expect any groundbreaking changes to happen if we do not send a clear message that Europeans want a different approach. We cannot just blame decision-makers: we elect them.
Last month, Slow Food Europe, together with Slow Food Youth Network, started its action for the European Elections. Among several activities, it has prepared you a list of reasons on why YOU absolutely need to vote in the European Elections.
Read our answers on Twitter.
European production cannot meet the growing demand for organic food. Since the beginning of the millennium, per capita consumption of organic food in the EU has almost quadrupled. Due to rising demand and the growing market share of organic food in the EU, the proportion of organically farmed land has grown but is still far too small.
The EU pays only 6% of its budget to organic farming for agri-environmental and climate measures, with shares varying widely from country to country. In order to meet the growing demand for organic food, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) needs to redirect itself and make more targeted use of funding for agri-environmental practices and positive climate measures for organic farming!
Agriculture is a crucial factor when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions: about a quarter of all climate-damaging gases worldwide come from agriculture, in the EU it makes about 10%. Although the EU has set clear targets for 2030, no concrete target has been set in reducing emissions in agriculture. Although the CAP has approaches to promoting climate protection measures, their results are not monitored.
Initial drafts of the new CAP show a strong tendency to promote technology-intensive farming practices based on precision farming. Under the guise of climate protection, climate-smarter agriculture remains a vague concept, without clear definitions and standards, which ultimately favors multinational agricultural and food corporations. This type of farming is associated with very energy-intensive and expensive inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, etc.), which require large investments on the part of farmers and create new dependencies.
We, therefore, need the promotion of agro-ecological agriculture instead of agro-industrial intensification! A transformation towards more climate-friendly and sustainable agriculture requires agro-ecological principles and food sovereignty to be the basis of our food and trade policy!
It is estimated that 3.5 million of those farmers over 65 will retire in the next few years. Meanwhile, only 15% of farmers are under 44 years of age. Agriculture in the EU has a problem with young people and is on the brink of collapse! It is becoming increasingly difficult for many young people to start a career in agriculture and food production because of price-sensitive farms and farmland, plus unattractive living and working conditions.
In order to attract enough young people to agriculture, the CAP must be geared towards needs and it must make its resources available for business start-ups!
Nature is a cycle. Insects are important for the pollination of agricultural crops and essential for our ecosystems. Without them, crop yields would drastically decrease and birds would also lack food. One reason for insect mortality is industrial agriculture, which damages biodiversity.
We urgently need a systematic change. At EU level, the newly elected European Parliament and the new CAP must work for insect protection from 2021! This is needed so that biodiversity can be preserved and food production can continue to be safeguarded in the future.
Around 96% of the farms which were closed had less than 10 hectares. This type of farms represents the majority of farms in the EU (80%), but only 10% of the total agricultural area. These small farms usually face one major challenge: low food prices hardly cover production costs. It is not the producers who make the profits, but primarily the processing and trading companies.
As the majority of EU agricultural subsidies are granted on the basis of surface area, small farms are often undervalued and overlooked in terms of support. The CAP must ensure the economic survival of small farms, instead of supporting large agricultural groups solely on the basis of their land area.
Today, the European elections take place in a very different context to five years ago.
We see how unchallenged untruths can easily turn diversity into division, and how fragile democracy can be if we do not actively participate in it.
Take your chance, have your say! Together, we can shape the Europe that we want.
#foodisPOLITICS #votewithyourfork #thistimeimvoting #EUElections2019 #EP2019 #FutureofEurope
Indre Anskaityte, Slow Food Europe