Copa and Cogeca have called for realistic and achievable targets to be included in the Review of EU Air quality Policy, warning that emission reduction targets for methane and ammonia are unrealistic and will severely damage the EU livestock sector at a time when it is already suffering badly.
Hosting the high-level event, MEP Jim Nicholson said the challenge is to produce quality food in an environmentally friendly way: emission reduction targets must be realistic and affordable.
Speaking at the hearing, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen stressed: “The EU agriculture sector is ready to contribute to combating climate change but some of the emission reduction targets included in the National Emission Ceilings Directive (NEC) are unacceptable. Farmers have also already made a lot of progress here which should be taken into account”.
Citing examples, UK dairy farmer Robert Brunt said 70 per cent of his farm is in the nitrate vulnerable zone and he has spent huge amounts on projects to prevent slurry from entering the water system. He has also reduced fertilizer use by 40 per cent.
“With the collapse in milk prices, there is little money to invest or meet costly regulations,” he warned.
He insisted that any further cuts must be manageable and achievable. Kasper Thormod Nielsen from Arla Foods also pointed to the fact that food demand is set to rise by 60 per cent by 2050 and farmers are needed to be in a position to meet this upcoming demand.
European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives urge the EU Commission to come up by the end of 2016 with a proposal for ammonia targets for 2030 that will create a level playing field within Europe and that will be science based and cost-efficient. This should is a real chance to move things forward.
Wrapping up, MEP Julie Girling, responsible for drawing up MEPs report, said she knows farmers have done a lot and she has been discussing with EU Agriculture Commisioner Hogan how changes can be made in the CAP mid-term review.
The move comes just before European Parliaments vote on the issue at the end of October.