On June 25th, the European Union’s member states approved a deal that improves the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The CAP was originally created to support EU farmers and ensure that they earn a sustainable living, as well as help mitigate climate change through environmentally sustainable farming, according to the European Commission. These initiatives are funded directly by the EU, from the Europe Agriculture Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the Europe Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The new measures and most recent reforms entail that CAP funds are distributed fairly, which ensures that small farms, family farms, and young farmers all have adequate funds, as reported in a press release from the European Commission. With the diversification and equitable distribution of funds, the EU and its farmers can help better mitigate climate change.
After the agreement was reached, Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans stated that, “In the next years, [the EU] will protect wet- and peatlands, dedicate more farmland to biodiversity, boost organic farming, open up new income sources for farmers via carbon farming, and begin to redress inequalities in the distribution of income support.” Essentially, the goal is to fund sustainable farming: farmers can only practice the latest sustainable techniques if they have access to the latest technology and information on environmental troubles. However, having this kind of access is not always easy in rural areas, so diversifying EU funds to account for farmers and their livelihoods is essential to mitigating climate change.
This is an important step forward in improving climate change and social justice. Supporting farmers, their livelihoods, and their communities is necessary for ensuring a more equitable distribution of wealth, and thus social justice. Moreover, the fact that these reforms include a focus on sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices with new technology and information is promising for the future of climate change in the EU.
This is also hopeful because this can set an example for other wealthy countries. Countries that are poorer are not always able to focus on sustainable practices, but wealthy countries have no excuse when it comes to improving climate change. Furthermore, this policy is beneficial to progressiveness in the EU. Social and environmental justice go hand-in-hand, and that is what the new CAP revisions will help with. Hopefully, the new CAP will not stop engaging with social justice here but rather will continue to improve. If the EU is going to remain committed to environmental sustainability, then social reforms must be recognized and incorporated too.
Introduced after World War II as part of the Treaty of Rome, the Common Agricultural Policy was, from its conception, meant to boost agricultural production by establishing guaranteed markets, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. However, with increased production inevitably came environmental issues and degradation. The CAP has hence undergone a series of reforms to keep it environmentally friendly while also economically beneficial to farmers and the EU, or as good as it can be in both respects. What makes this most recent reform to the CAP particularly significant is its attention to smaller farms.
In the near future, the most necessary thing is clearly and fully implementing the new CAP. While this is obvious, the EU must uphold the commitment they made to these reforms. For the longer term, the EU should continue with reforms to the CAP that address the newest environmental issues and ways of mitigating those. As time progresses, the EU should also pursue more opportunities to make the CAP increasingly oriented towards social justice. Generally speaking, larger organizations are driven more by monetary gain than by attention to the environment, in contrast to smaller farms. Ideally, over time, greater attention to smaller farms will yield improved environmental conditions. The newest CAP reforms are a huge step, so the possibility that the EU will continue in this direction is hopeful.
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