28 Feb 2024, 12:24
Jennifer Collins

German farmers slam EU nature restoration law which agri minister says is 'in their best interest'

Clean Energy Wire

The newly passed EU law to restore nature has been met critically by the farming industry. The lobby group German Farmers’ Association (DBV) criticised it for being a "backward-looking and misguided approach" that favours regulations and bans instead of a policy of incentives and cooperation with farmers. Weeks of major farmer protests across Europe and opposition from right-wing and conservative parties had threatened to torpedo the deal, but environment groups are welcoming the law despite calling it "considerably weakened." A watered-down version of the hotly contested EU nature restoration law has set a target for the bloc to restore 20 percent of its sea and land habitats by the end of the decade, with the goal to restore all degraded ecosystems set for 2050. Moreover, at least 30 percent of drained peatlands, which are significant carbon stores, should be rewetted by 2030, the law says. However, farmers and private landowners will not be forced to rewet their peatland. Still, the law "ignores what agriculture and forestry are already achieving with domestic food production, renewable raw materials and renewable energies," said Bernhard Krüsken, general secretary of the DBV, emphasising the need for voluntary action. The EU Council must still approve the law before it comes into force.

Cem Özdemir, Germany's agriculture minister from the Green Party, criticised the conservative European People's Party (EPP) last-minute opposition. The deal is "in the best interests of farmers" and of securing European food supply because of agriculture's dependence on a "stable climate, healthy soils and rich biodiversity," Özdemir argued.  "Anyone who takes food security seriously should want protect what gives us good harvests – namely our natural resources. This is the only way to secure food supply for future generations," said Özdemir. Other German Green Party lawmakers also signalled their backing for the law, which includes targets like reversing the decline in pollinators, restoring 25,000 kilometres of free-flowing rivers and planting 3 billion extra trees. "With the EU regulation on nature restoration, we are jointly strengthening our natural resources and at the same time implementing our international obligations in the area of nature and species protection throughout the EU," Germany's environment minister Steffi Lemke said.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

Get support

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee