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Leaked EU docs detail radical green proposals on farming agenda

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The EU's agriculture policy is set for radical change under its new Green Deal.

The bloc's flagship project aims to make the continent carbon-neutral by 2050 and comes amid overwhelming support from Europeans who see irreversible climate change as the biggest challenge they are facing, more so than terrorism, poor healthcare or unemployment.

And new leaked proposals for the agriculture sector under the plan could see a radical reshaping of farming across Europe.

Among the proposals seen by the Farming Independent is a plan to reduce the use of fertilisers across the EU, if necessary by introducing new laws.

Tillage farmers will be concerned by a proposal to reduce dependency on pesticides and stimulate the take-up of low-risk pesticides and non-chemical alternatives.

Fears have been raised over the future of live exports under the Green Deal, with a new proposal to evaluate the existing animal welfare legislation and, in the meantime, boost enforcement of existing legislation.

The Green Deal is also set to have a major impact on the next CAP reform by ensuring that national strategic plans adhere to a concerted and ambitious approach to sustainability.

Concerns have also been raised over the proposals to set as a requirement origin labelling for milk and for milk and meat as an ingredient on food products which could impact negatively on exporting countries such as Ireland.

Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland warned that such a move could lead to huge issues post-Brexit, with complications regarding the origin of Irish dairy products with Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland milk. Almost a billion litres of Northern Irish milk is processed in the South annually.

"Often the motivation of these compulsory origin labels is food nationalism, and to exclude or devalue milk from exporters like Ireland. Remember Ireland exports over 90pc of dairy and meat production," Mulvihill said.

Commenting on the Draft Action Plan, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said that yet again the policy-makers have adopted a very narrow definition of sustainability and ignored the economic and social elements of that concept. "Even under the headings where you would expect to see something, such as 'Support primary producers in the transition', there's not a word about a sustainable price for the primary producer," he said. "It's obvious to anyone who looks closely at the way that our food production and supply systems interact with the new climate realities - the changes in food production compelled by climate change must mean the end of the era of cheap food, and it will mean wresting back control of the food-supply chain from corporate retailers.

"That's going to be the starting point for any meaningful reform of farming and food-supply and this 'Farm To Fork' Draft Action Plan is not just quiet but utterly silent on this fundamental."

Indo Farming