|Author (Person)||Neligan, Myles|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.4, No.44, 3.12.98, p7|
|Content Type||Journal | Series | Blog|
NATIONAL governments and 'green' groups are stepping up pressure on Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler to amend a key aspect of his blueprint for farm reform, claiming it is inconsistent with the EU's environmental aims.
They argue that if changes are not made, the Union will be unable to fulfil its commitment under the 1997 Kyoto accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or meet the European Commission's targets for increasing the use of renewable energy.
Under Fischler's proposals for reforming the Common Agricultural Policy, EU rules forcing farmers to leave a proportion of their arable land uncultivated (known as 'set-aside' land), to curb overproduction of cereals, would be abolished. These rules allow farmers to grow non-food crops on set-aside land in return for a per-hectare subsidy.
Critics of the plan claim that abolishing the set-aside regime would remove a major incentive to produce non-food crops such as oilseeds, an important source of renewable energy.
The Commission is also proposing to abolish an extra subsidy for oilseeds grown on non-set-aside land, lending further weight to the criticisms voiced by environmental campaigners and governments.
"Non-food crops are environmentally beneficial, and should be supported so long as this does not involve increased use of pesticides," said Natasha Yellachich, agriculture expert at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
The issue is expected to feature prominently in the final round of ministerial negotiations over CAP reform, with Sweden, Denmark and Finland pushing hard for more support for non-food crops. Other governments also favour at least minor changes to the current plans.
Last month, the Austrian presidency hosted a conference of national environmental experts which concluded that "the reform proposals for Agenda 2000 reflect neither the European Commission's commitment to increase the proportion of renewable energy, nor the goals established in Toronto and Kyoto regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions".
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry|