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A bad week for Europe's farmland wildlife

Last modified: 24 January 2013

Colour ringed male cirl bunting singing

The RSPB hopes that farming policy will still enable farmers to rescue species like the cirl bunting

Image: RSPB - Nick Tomalin

A bad outcome for both the environment and taxpayers, that’s the critical message from the RSPB following the latest vote of the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee, which provides direction for the future of European farming.

Jenna Hegarty is a senior agricultural policy with the RSPB. She said: “The decline of wildlife, environmental degradation and constrained financial budgets are three of the greatest threats affecting Europe. So we are baffled why this committee has voted for retrograde policies worsening the outlook for wildlife while providing poorer value for money for European taxpayers.

Vested interests

“It beggars belief. Rather than reforming Europe’s farming policies, yesterday’s decisions are taking us into the dark past when cronyism and vested interests won the day. By undermining virtually every opportunity to improve the policy’s environmental performance, the committee has signalled they’re not interested in the long term health of farming or getting value for money for taxpayers. Why else would they show so little regard for the health of the natural environment?”

This is not the endgame though. In March, all MEPs will gather to vote on what the agriculture committee pushed through this week.  Jenna added: “They must grab the opportunity to kick out issues like ‘double-funding’, which would mean paying for the same environmental activity twice – something we simply cannot afford to do. We need to ensure proper support for farming and land management approaches that deliver amazing things for the environment, including many of our upland and crofting farming systems. If they don’t do this then they are clearly not ready for their new powers in farming policy.”

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