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article imageEurope’s green farming projects as ‘too costly’

By Tim Sandle     Feb 9, 2016 in Environment
Recently pilot studies and initiatives aimed to develop ‘green farming’ have been undertaken in Europe. The aim is to create more sustainable agriculture. There are different measures of success. On cost effectiveness the studies appear to have failed
The cost issue stems from the European Court of Auditors (ECA), which has reported “unreasonably high costs” related to EU-funded schemes intended to support environmentally friendly agriculture in the U.K., Italy, Denmark and Portugal. Of 28 projects, only five were found to break even.
In total, from 2007 to 2013, about 860 million euros of public money has been spent on "green farming" initiatives. By green farming, this refers to organic farming, where the use of certain pesticides and fertilizers is ruled out, as well as initiatives that contribute to conservation and sustainability. This includes biodiversity and protecting the landscape. Another initiative is restricting livestock production to feeds not suitable for human consumption, in order to avoid waste and to boost food security.
According to an EU bulletin, Jan Kinšt, a member of the European Court of Auditors stated that although sustainable management of farmed land was important the “EU support has to make financial sense as well.”
Kinšt also added: “Member states did not appropriately verify the reality of the costs claimed, or accepted the most expensive offer without justification. In several cases, projects which would clearly have increased the value of the holding were fully funded with public money or benefited from much higher aid rates than those normally granted to productive investments.”
This is not the end of green initiatives in relation to farming in Europe, however. Environmental campaigners are seeking changes to the controversial Common Agricultural Policy (CAP.) The CAP is the mechanism for subsiding farms across Europe, which benefits more rural countries. In 2014, the subsidies topped 62 billion euros.
The campaigners want to use the European Commission’s 'better regulation' procedures to push through more green and organic measures. The issue will be debated next month by the European Parliament.
More about green farming, Farming, Organic farming
 
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