News from the Archive
26th September 2006
The European model of agriculture -challenges ahead
A Background Paper for the Meeting of Ministers of Agriculture in Oulu 26.09.2006, says e.g.
Economically, ecologically and socially sustainable European Agriculture
Multi-functionality is at the heart of the European Model of Agriculture. This means that together with competitive food, fibre and energy production farming also delivers other services for society as a whole. These services, which are closely linked to food and fibre production, include safeguarding viable rural societies and infrastructures, balanced regional development and rural employment, maintenance of traditional rural landscapes, bio-diversity, protection of the environment, and high standards of animal welfare and food safety. These services reflect the concerns of consumers and taxpayers. As European farmers provide these multifunctional services for the benefit of society as a whole, which often incur additional costs without a compensating market return, it is necessary and justified to reward them through public funds.
In most European countries family farms are the key element in fulfilling the objectives of the European Model of Agriculture. However, there are significant differences in the production patterns, farm sizes and natural conditions and also production costs within and between the Member States. This consequently means that the sizes and types of production units also vary considerably in different parts of Europe. A key element in the European Model of Agriculture is that different production models should be allowed to co-exist along each other as long as they conform to the above-mentioned overall objectives of the European Model of Agriculture.
In the European context the sustainable development aspects of farming are of special importance. The objectives of European agricultural policy include not only keeping the environment within the farm in a good environmental condition and reducing negative environmental effects of production but also maintaining traditional landscapes and safeguarding biodiversity and animal welfare. By optimizing the use of fertilisers and minimising the use of chemicals the implementation of the policy can lead to remarkable improvements of soil and waters.
In fact many of the measures of the Community rural development policy and the cross compliance requirements in the Single Farm Payment system ensure safeguarding the environment, enforce animal welfare, food safety and quality, which are important for the European citizens and consumers.
Sustainable development in agriculture also means that the economic conditions of farming are safeguarded. This also secures socially sustainable development of the sector. Even today about 56 % of the European population lives in rural areas. Maintenance of viable rural societies would be impossible, if the economic conditions would drastically change in a short period of time. This is especially true in remote, sparsely populated areas, which lack business potential and market opportunities. By maintaining farming and developing new activities and services in rural areas, society can better provide the public services for people living in rural areas as well as for the urban population seeking recreational opportunities. At the same time, European cultural heritage can also be maintained and social problems relating to migration from rural areas to cities avoided. Within this broader context the general acceptability of policy can be maintained in a more sustained and consensual manner.
The European Mode of Agriculture - Challenges Ahead
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