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AGRICULTURE MIN: BRUSSELS ARM-TWISTING FARMERS

 

Mandatory and specific targets set down in the Green Deal, while advancing a political agreement on CAP reform, could also result in a decline in agricultural production, leading to drastic food price hikes, Minister of Agriculture István Nagy said at a Luxembourg meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council. Ordinary people and farmers should not have to pay the price of the EU’s green targets, the minister insisted, noting that the agricultural sector was expected to aid the green transition by implementing new green requirements as part of the new Common Agricultural Policy.
Nagy said there was no doubt that agriculture must help towards achieving climate protection targets. But environmental and competitiveness aspects, he added, should be balanced. Political agreement on CAP reform reached in June this year struck this balance, he said, adding that the overwhelming majority of agriculture ministers agreed that EU legislation was the sole basis for adopting CAP strategic plans. But the European Commission has since decided to force member states to accept ambitious and quantified targets set out in the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity strategies that are not yet part of any EU legislation. Nagy said several informal impact studies indicated that implementation of the strategies carried grave economic consequences such as a fall in production and drastic food price rises. Hence, Brussels is burdening the population and farmers with the costs of the green transition, he added. Social support is essential for the green transition’s success, but this hinges on secure food supply and a viable farming sector, the minister said. Nagy said that according to the 2027 CAP agreement, 2030 targets cannot be set in concrete, yet this is precisely what the EC was proposing.
Meanwhile, Nagy also said sustainable forest management would help to achieve climate protection targets set down in the European Union’s Green Deal, but national regulations were the best way forward. Forest management, he added, was overwhelmingly a national competence and he called on Brussels to respect the national forest management policies of EU member states. The ministers agreed that forests are key in sustaining biological diversity and fighting climate change while at the same time expressing concern that insufficient emphasis was given in the strategy to the role of forests in the economy and society, he said.
Nagy underscored Hungary’s commitment to increasing the country’s wooded areas as well as to preserving its existing forests. He noted the government’s objective to increase wooded and forested areas from 24% to 27% by 2030.
Forest management regulations can be implemented most effectively at national level, the minister said. With its proposals, the European Commission would overstep its powers laid down in the EU Treaties and curb the autonomy of member states, he said, adding that he was confident the EU would take the concerns and suggestions expressed at the council meeting into account when formulating its strategy in November.