Civil society call to fix broken EU farm policy gains ground

Over 140 organisations from all over Europe – representing consumers and the food sector, and those working to promote environmental protection, health, and animal welfare – have joined a call for reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The organisations have responded to an appeal by ‘Living Land’ – a broad campaign which recognises that the EU’s agriculture policy is devastating to both our climate and our environment, wiping out wildlife, harming public health, and is failing small and medium sized farmers as well as rural communities.

Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, said: “With the ongoing online Public Consultation on the future of the CAP, there is a golden, indeed once in a lifetime, opportunity to tell the European Commission that the EU’s food and farming system is broken and needs fixing. Join Living Land and make your voice heard in the debate on the future of agriculture!”

Faustine Bas-Defossez, Policy Manager for Agriculture and Bioenergy, European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said: “When farming works in harmony with the environment and not against it, we protect the very natural resources we need to produce safe food today and tomorrow. But those who pretend to defend the farming community’s interests have time and time again fought for a policy that leads to the destruction of these resources. Given that how we produce and consume food affects us all, it is high time we have an inclusive debate on the CAP’s future that is not dominated by the vested interests of the agri-establishment.”

Andreas Baumueller, Head, Natural Resources, WWF European Policy Office, said: "Industrial farming is depleting natural resources in Europe and globally. The current system is affecting nature, small and medium farmers, people's health and the quality of our food. We call on a large number of organisations, businesses and citizens to engage and tell the EU commission that we need a radical change, a real reform of agriculture."


The Living Land campaign was started by BirdLife Europe & Central Asia, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and WWF EU. The organisations that have joined Living Land agree that the EU’s new agricultural policy must be:

  • Fair – for farmers and rural communities.
  • Environmentally Sustainable – for clean air and water, healthy soil, and thriving plant and animal life.
  • Healthy – for good food and the well-being of all people.
  • Globally Responsible – for the planet’s climate and sustainable development around the world.

Organisations and individuals can join the Living Land campaign from its website.

Progressive taxes on pesticides can save both agriculture and nature

By the Butterfly foundation

To secure the future of agriculture and  nature in Europe, a tax on artificial fertilizers, pesticides and imported fodder is necessary. This stated professor Frank Berendse today in a letter in the renowned scientific magazine Nature.

An enormous loss of biodiversity and numbers of birds, insects, and plants is happening in fields and meadows of Western Europe. The intensification of agriculture is one of the most important causes of this loss. This loss has an enormous impact on the services which the nature provides to the agricultural sector, like natural pest control and pollination.

Immediately after the second world war the European agricultural policy was focused on the large-scale, food production against low costs. The prevention of famine was the primary ambition. The government insisted on maximum  intensification of the agricultural process. Reallocation, artificial fertilizers and pesticides increased the agricultural production further and stimulated efficient techniques which led to a decline of employment.

In 1984 70% of the European Union budget was spent on this kind of agriculture. However, this has declined to 40% of the budget. This percentage will probably be reduced further, for instance  because of the high expenses of the immigration policy. Despite all the changes in the Common Agricultural Policy it’s still disastrous for both agriculture itself and nature in Europe.

Frank Berendse, Emeritus professor at the University of Wageningen, suggests in his letter in ‘Nature’ magazine to fundamentally reform the new Common agricultural Policy as from 2020 to be able to ensure the future of  European Agriculture and nature. He recommends a new progressive tax on artificial fertilizers, pesticides and imported fodder, charged per surface unit of land.

When this levy will be progressive enough, they will compensate for the lower crop yields trough lower production costs and a greater market share. Logically food prices will increase, because the true costs of pollution and the loss of biodiversity have not yet been charged to consumer prices. But there will be a choice in the supermarket, because true sustainable products will cost less than products with high inputs like pesticides.

Berendse suggests to include this taxes in a third pillar of the CAP. This will make the CAP more balanced, because farmers who provide societal services will be rewarded for their efforts (like cutting hedges) and the polluter will have to pay. This will lead to remarkable, price driven changes in the selling of sustainable products. This will make healthy and ‘clean’ food available for every European.

Moreover every move forward of a farmer towards the reduction of pesticides, imported soya or antibiotics will be rewarded with a better price,  better market position and a stronger public support. Nature conservation and environmental organizations support this solution and advocating a proper calculation of the (social) economic effects of such a scheme. The common position  about the revision of the CAP can be found on this website.

Civil Society Statement on the Reform of European Agricultural Policies Good Food, Good Farming – Now

Download the statement

We, the undersigned organisations, believe that the European food and farming system is broken: that it is working for the interests of a few to the detriment of the majority of people, farmers, and the planet.

Europe’s food and farming system directly contributes to a wasteful use of finite global resources and damages the environment by contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, depletion of fisheries, deforestation, soil erosion, water scarcity, as well as water and air pollution.

Factory-style farming – largely dependent on imports and a major contributor to antimicrobial resistance – has been promoted at the expense of viable incomes for farmers and jobs in rural areas in Europe, as well as human rights, decent work, and livelihoods in developing countries.

Farmers are facing a flawed choice between bankruptcy and further intensification. Farmers practising credible alternatives like organic and agro-ecological agriculture remain on the fringes in favour of business as usual. At the same time, high levels of undernourishment, the rapid rise in obesity and unhealthy diets are among the main causes of death and disease both in Europe and worldwide. 

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has contributed to this broken food and farming system through the promotion of agro-industrial farming methods and global commodity chains. In order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, the EU must carry out a radical reform of the CAP and related policies. A fairer, more sustainable and resilient system is urgently needed. The undersigned organisations call for a major transformation of Europe’s food and farming system on the basis of the following principles:

  • Fair and diverse food and farming economies: ensure a fair income and decent work conditions for farmers and farm workers; facilitate access to farmland for sustainable peasant farming; encourage short supply chains and sustainable public procurement policies; grant fair access to high quality products for all consumers; prevent negative impacts on people’s right to food and on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the global south. 
  • Healthy environment and a food and farming system that respects animal welfare: ensure the end of harmful     subsidies; reward and incentivise the delivery of positive environmental and social outcomes; restore and prevent further loss of biodiversity; encourage conservation and active use of genetic diversity; ensure agricultural production is free from synthetic chemical pesticides and mineral fertilisers that harm the environment; prevent and minimise food waste throughout the food chain; halt food and feed imports linked to deforestation; ensure that animal health and welfare are effectively respected; replace the current industrial livestock system with extensive alternatives where animals are not treated as mere commodities and the balance between livestock and land capacity is ensured, while the overuse of antibiotics prevented; radically reduce emissions from farming and ensure a transition towards a resilient food and farming system.
  • Support for citizens’ health and well-being: ensure our food and farming system fosters healthy, nutritious, seasonal, local, culturally appropriate and affordable diets; encourage lower levels of animal product consumption; raise citizens’ awareness of the impacts of consumption on their own health, on farmers, animals and the environment; prevent negative impacts of agricultural methods on the health of farmers, farm workers and rural populations. 
  • A publicly accountable food system with participatory governance, citizens’ empowerment and democracy: involve citizens in transparent decision making processes; prevent corporate capture of decision making; empower local communities to lead the transformation.

We are committed to achieving a real transition by working in partnership with farmers, citizens and policy-makers. Therefore, we urge the European institutions and national policymakers to rethink the role and direction of European agriculture policies and use the principles presented above as a basis for the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy reform process. 

List of organisations supporting the statement/ March 2017

EU and International organisations

  • ACT Alliance
  • EU ActionAid
  • Agricultural and Rural Convention
  • Arche Noah
  • Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination
  • BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
  • CEEweb for Biodiversity
  • ClientEarth
  • Climate Action Network Europe
  • Compassion in World Farming
  • Corporate Europe Observatory
  • Euro Coop
  • Eurogroup for Animals
  • European Coordination Via Campesina
  • European Environmental Bureau
  • European Public Health Alliance
  • Fair Trade Advocacy Office Fern
  • Friends of the EarthEurope
  • Greenpeace
  • Humane Society International/Europe
  • IFOAM EU – International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements EU
  • Pesticide Action Network Europe
  • Slow Food
  • Urgenci
  • WWF


  • BirdLife Austria
  • DKA Austria Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar
  • Grüne Bäuerinnen und Bauern Österreich
  • Slow Food Pinzgau
  • Slow Food Styria
  • Slow Food Vorarlberg
  • Umweltdachverband
  • Welthaus Diözese Graz-Seckau


  • BioForum Vlaanderen
  • Bond Beter Leefmilieu
  • Carbon Market Watch
  • Natagora
  • Natuurpunt
  • Oxfam-Solidarity
  • Slow Food Metropolitan Brussels
  • Slow Food Sentinelles Pays de Herve
  • Technifood Flower Energy
  • Voedsel Anders


  • Association of Slow Food in Bulgaria
  • BIOSELENA Foundation for organic agriculture
  • BSPB/BirdLife Bulgaria
  • Bulgarian Organic Products Association
  • Europe and We
  • Za Zemiata - Friends of the Earth Bulgaria


  • Association Kinookus

Czech Republic

  • Czech Society for Ornithology/Birdlife
  • Slow Food Palava


  • DOF / BirdLife Denmark
  • NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark
  • Økologisk Landsforening / Organic Denmark
  • Slow Food Odsherred
  • The Danish Society for Nature Conservation


  • Finnish Association for Organic Farming – Luomuliitto
  • The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU Kehys


  • Compassion In World Farming France
  • Ecologie Développement Durable Démocratie
  • Fédération Nationale d’Agriculture Biologique
  • Générations Futures
  • la ferme Bio de l’Estuaire
  • Le Ruban Vert
  • LPO France (BirdLife France)
  • Mouvement d’Agriculture Biodynamique
  • WWF France


  • Bioland
  • BUND - Friends of the Earth Germany
  • Demeter e.V.
  • Deutscher Naturschutzring
  • Die Freien Bäcker e.V.
  • ECOVIN Bundesverband Ökologischer Weinbau Wormser
  • Institut für Welternährung- World Food Institute eV. Berlin
  • NABU Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V.
  • Naturland
  • Slow Food Deutschland e. V.
  • Slow Food Youth Deutschland


  • ANTIGONE - Information and Documentation Center on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence Argos Animal Welfare Thessaloniki
  • Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki
  • Eptapsyhes-Nine Lives
  • Hellenic Ornithological Society/BirdLife Greece
  • NatureFriends Greece
  • No Border Workshop
  • Single Ecological Metamorphosis and Mesogeion


  • Magyar Biokultúra Szövetség
  • MME/BirdLife Hungary
  • Slow Food Heves-Mátra
  • Slow Food Nagykoru


  • BirdWatch Ireland
  • Organic Trust CLG


  • Aam Terra Nuova
  • Apicoltura Biologica
  • Associazione BioDistretto Valdichiana
  • Compassion in World Farming Italy Consorzio della Quarantina
  • DEAFAL ONG - Delegazione Europea per l’Agricoltura in Asia, Africa e America Latina
  • Federazione Pro Natura
  • FederBio - Italian Federation of Organic And Biodynamic Agriculture
  • Legambiente Onlus
  • Lipu - BirdLife Italy
  • Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Italy
  • Slow Food Italia
  • Soleterre ONLUS
  • Unaapi- Unione Nazionale Associazioni Apicoltori Italiani
  • WWF Italy


  • Latvian Fund for nature


  • Action Solidarité Tiers Monde
  • ASTM Attac Luxembourg
  • Bio-Lëtzebuerg - Vereenegung fir Biolandwirtschaft Lëtzebuerg asbl
  • Caritas Luxembourg
  • Catholic Church in Luxembourg
  • Centre for Ecological Learning Luxembourg
  • etika Initiativ fir Alternativ Finanzéierung
  • Frères des Hommes
  • Initiativ Liewensufank asbl
  • Mouvement Ecologique natur&ëmwelt a.s.b.l.
  • TERRA - Transition and Education for a Resilient and Regenerative Agriculture


  • Breeds of Origin Conservancy
  • Last Friday of the Month Gourmet
  • Slow Food Malta


  • Compassion in World Farming Nederland
  • Museum Geelvinck
  • Natuurmonumenten
  • Slow Food Nederland
  • WWF Netherlands


  • EKOLAND Association
  • Compassion in World Farming Poland
  • Forum Rolnictwa Ekologicznego
  • Slow Food Warsaw
  • Slow Food Youth Wrocław
  • Union of Organic Farmers of St. Francis of Assisi


  • LPN - Liga para a Protecção da Natureza
  • SPEA - Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves


  • Asociația Mai bine
  • Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania
  • Romanian Center for European Policies
  • Slow Food Bucuresti Valahia Gusturilor
  • Slow Food Tara Silvania, Salaj, Romania
  • Slow Food Tarnava Mare


  • Agro-Eko forum
  • CEPTA - Centre for Sustainable Alternatives Ekotrend Slovakia
  • Permakultúra SK
  • Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development
  • Raptor Protection of Slovakia Slow Food Pressburg
  • Slow Food Youth Slovakia SOS/BirdLife Slovakia


  • DONDES - Društvo za ohranjanje naravne dediščine Slovenije
  • DOPPS-BirdLife Slovenia
  • Inštitut za trajnostni razvoj - Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Movement for Sustainable Development of Slovenia – TRS
  • NEC Notranjska ecological centre, Cerknica
  • Society for conservation, research and sustainable development of the Dinaric ecosystems – Dinaricum
  • Umanotera, The Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development
  • Zavod Svibna


  • Asociación Valor Ecológico, CAAE (ECOVALIA)
  • Ecologistas en Acción
  • SEO/BirdLife
  • Slow Food La Selva Costa Brava Sud
  • WWF Spain


  • Swedish Society for Nature Conservation

United Kingdom

  • Friends of the Earth ENWI
  • Slow Food England
  • Slow Food in the UK
  • Soil Association
  • Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Living Land campaign launched!

Credit: Simon Blackley/Creative Commons

Europe's food and farming system is devastating our climate and the environment, wiping out wildlife, harming public health, limiting consumer food choices, and it is failing small and medium-sized farmers as well as rural communities. In Europe, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the main driver behind this unsustainable system.

The Living Land campaign aims to show that an in-depth reform of this policy is both needed and possible - and that there is huge support for reform from a wide variety of sectors. And with the European Commission currently holding a Public Consultation on the future of the CAP, we have a unique opportunity to make this call for change heard!

Find out how you can join our campaign and take a look at our recommended responses to help you fill in the Commission’s Public Consultation.