EU agriculture ministers support green agriculture program

The agriculture ministers of the European Union agreed on Wednesday to allocate part of the huge agricultural budget of the community for programs to protect the environment.
The EU is nearing the end of a two-year struggle to revise its agricultural policy in an attempt to align it with the bloc's climate protection commitments while ensuring farmers' livelihoods.
Overall agricultural policy will absorb around a third of the EU's € 1.1 trillion budget for 2021-27, split between direct payments to farmers and other rural development support.
The ministers agreed that 20% of payments to farmers are for environmentally friendly programs such as organic farming or agroforestry. Farmers can only expect this part of the support for such purposes.
The new regulations are scheduled to begin in 2023. Ministers agreed on a two-year pilot phase for the green systems, which means that they will be mandatory from 2025. Some countries have raised concerns that being tied to environmental goals will result in the money not being spent.
"We cannot just leave it to the member states to decide whether or not ecosystems are used. And if so, what money is made available," said German Agriculture Minister Julia Kloeckner, who chaired the meeting.
With agricultural land accounting for 40% of the EU as a whole, agriculture has a major impact on people's health as well as on Europe's natural habitats.
Agriculture is the greatest threat to nature in Europe. Intensive cultivation techniques with the use of pesticides and artificial irrigation, announced the EU environmental authority on Monday.
Activists said the 20% percentage for green programs is too low. "Agriculture ministers are largely continuing an agricultural policy that puts taxpayers' money into polluting, industrialized agriculture until at least 2027," said Jabier Ruiz, WWF senior policy officer.
The agricultural policy negotiations do not end with Wednesday's deal. Now the EU countries still have to reach an agreement on the rules with the European Parliament and the European Commission.Parliament is voting on politics this week.

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