13 Jan 2021, 13:39
Kerstine Appunn

Farmers must contribute more to Germany’s climate neutrality goal – Env Min

Germany’s farmers will have to make greater efforts to contribute to the country’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, environment Minister Svenja Schulze has said at her ministry’s annual Agriculture Congress. The environment ministry (BMU) published a proposal on how to use the six billion euros in EU agriculture support the country will receive per year to maximise benefits for the climate, biodiversity, the society and farmers themselves. “Climate action must be taken seriously by the sector as it has to contribute to the 2050 target. This, for example, can be achieved by a better treatment of moorlands and permanent pastures,” she said.

Countries must implement the rules for distributing funds from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) starting in 2023 by using 20 to 30 percent of direct payments to farmers in so-called eco-schemes. The BMU proposes ten specific eco-schemes, such as paying farmers for further reducing their permitted nutrient surpluses and foregoing the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, maintaining diverse crop rotation or using their meadows and pastures in an environmentally-friendly and animal-friendly manner.
It is important to take detailed decisions on these measures soon and with the involvement of the German states’ environment ministers and administrations rather than by agriculture administrations only, Schulze said. Eco-scheme implementation must be precise and differentiated to achieve the greatest environmental and climate benefits possible. “People in the agriculture sector need planning security: they must know what they will get money for in the next seven years, including regional differentiation and appropriate measures that also work and are not just painting money green,” Schulze said. She acknowledged in a press release that many farmers are already very active in protecting the climate, but “the system as a whole is not working well enough.” At the conference, she said “our farmers are standing with their backs to the wall. The problem is not environmental regulations but cheap prices for food and the misguided policy of focusing on the export market for farming goods.”

"Farmers are open to achievable and effective environmental measures," Werner Schwarz, vice president of the German Farmers’ Association (DBV), said in a press release. He added: “Sustainable agriculture […] also requires appropriate remuneration for environmental services. This should not be planned without taking into account consumers’ willingness to pay for it at the shop counter.”

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