The assumption that the common agricultural policy (CAP) is a wasteful boondoggle (Rotten but here to stay, 5 July) is at best misguided and at worst misleading. This week, as the European parliament votes on CAP reform post-2013, it is clear that MEPs are coming to a consensus on the ways to tackle entrenched and endemic issues.
The report I authored â€“ The Future of the common agricultural policy after 2013 â€“ which sets out these reforms, puts sustainable, fair and green credentials at the heart of the CAP.
For the first time, direct support payments to farmers will be linked to efforts to tackle climate change. A reformed and renewed CAP will treat farmers as part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem. This includes making sure the majority of farmers can join agri-environment schemes, encouraging the development of small-scale renewables and, as your editorial pointed out, creating opportunities to produce carbon sinks from peat bogs.
But land management cannot be the only focus of the CAP. In the coming years we face a growing global population, coupled with a substantial increase in demand for food against the backdrop of less land, less water and less energy.
Simply scrapping the CAP, as some have suggested, would lead to the demise of food production across vast tracts of poor-quality land in Europe, leading to widespread land abandonment. For many communities, locally sourced food would become a thing of the past. At the same time, food production would intensify on the good-quality land, which could lead to serious environmental degradation.
Such an approach would cause untold damage to our landscape, communities and the environment. Rather than seeing the CAP as simply evil, it is better to look upon it as a necessary evil and welcome the European parliament’s efforts to take another substantial step forward in reforming the CAP to make it greener, fairer and more sustainable.Â
George Lyon MEP
Liberal Democrat, Scotland
â€¢ Only recently have we begun to uncover who gets what from the â‚¬55bn CAP. But our right to know is at risk. The EU advocate general last month published an opinion upholding the cases brought by two German farmers who object, on grounds of personal privacy, to the EU’s new laws on budget transparency. If the European court of justice’s verdict confirms the advocate general’s opinion (and in the large majority of cases, it does), then European citizens will no longer have the right to know how their money is being spent. I hope the judges in Luxembourg will instead affirm the virtues of openÂ government and budget transparency and uphold the current rulesÂ onÂ disclosure.