Timmermans: we must help farmers to become more sustainable
The agricultural sector needs financial support to become more environmentally friendly. That is what European Commissioner Frans Timmermans said today when presenting his new agricultural plans, called ‘From farm to fork’. “We have a collective responsibility to help farmers,” said the Vice-President of the European Commission.
“It is not the fault of the farmers that we produce too much, exhaust the environment and use too much pesticides. That is a collective responsibility and that is why we as a society as a whole must do something about it.”
Timmermans not only wants farmers to invest in sustainable agriculture, but also for the rural area to receive 5G. “That way you can do precision farming, which means that less pesticides are needed.”
The question of whether agriculture can do without all that poison, or “plant protection products” as Bert-Jan Ruissen of the SGP calls them, is uncertain. “Do we get crop failures and is there room for pests and diseases?” He wonders. In addition, the SGP wants agricultural production to remain at least the same in the near future in order to feed all mouths in the European Union.
Lobby organization LTO Nederland adds, through Leon Faassen, that agriculture has no use for a new set of rules. “Unfortunately, the European Commission seems to see more in prohibitions imposed from above than in sustainability from the farmyard. This completely destroys the innovative strength and ambition of farmers and horticulturists; it is yet another package of regulations that is poured out on us,” says Faassen. .
However, European Commissioner Timmermans is not so afraid of pests. “If we use less pesticides and know exactly what is in our food, we will live a lot healthier in ten years. It will certainly increase our resilience.”
Meat overproduction not addressed
Not only the agricultural lobby is dissatisfied. Criticism is also voiced from an environmental angle. Marco Contiero, Agriculture Director of Greenpeace, welcomes the fact that the European Commission writes critical words about the overproduction of meat and dairy products, but is missing concrete actions.
As an example, he mentions the subsidies that the EU provides to promote the consumption of meat. “It is a bit cowardly to talk about a smaller herd without taking concrete measures.”
The PvdA misses that too, says MEP Mohammed Chahim. “There is a shortage in the European system. When it comes to meat and dairy, there is overproduction. And agriculture is too dependent on cheap labor to get the crops from the country.”
Moreover, the current agricultural policy works mainly to the advantage of large supermarkets, he says. “The low prices make them rich from our farmers.”