What you need to know about farmers' protests in Brussels and beyond

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What you need to know about farmers' protests in Brussels and beyond

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In the last plenary session, the European Parliament adopted the law on the restoration of nature, a law which aims to restore degraded ecosystems and protect habitats such as forests, rivers, lakes and coral reefs. According to some political forces, however, it would be another ” blow to farmers “, as some members of the League have underlined. Farmers who, for their part, have in the meantime gathered in Brussels, with hundreds of tractors, to protest while the European Council of Agriculture Ministers was being held.

These protests have been going on for months, but specifically, what are the farmers protesting?

First of all, the European Green Deal , that is, the green agenda that the European Union has put in place to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, and which calls for example to eliminate harmful pesticides or to leave portions of land uncultivated for preserve biodiversity.

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The CAP , the common European agricultural policy, is also in the sights of farmers, always for the same reason: for farmers it dictates rules that are too rigid to respect the environment. Rules to which non-EU countries are not subject, thus being able to offer much lower prices on the market.

In short, for farmers the Brussels plan is unsustainable, it is “extreme environmentalism” which however does not protect their work. As a result, they ask for more subsidies and benefits.

The political forces are quite divided. For the more conservative ones, farmers are right: the EU's choices on the climate were ideological and did not protect the interests of workers in the sector. For the more progressive ones, however, European agriculture is not threatened by the ecological transition, but by climate change which is instead a direct consequence of dependence on fossil fuels.

There are a couple of clarifications to make. First of all, speaking generally of “European agricultural policies”, as farmers often do when they say that they need to be modified, does not mean much: it is in fact a very vast set of rules, some of which are very different from each other, which determine the disbursement of agricultural funds. Which, it must be said, is one of the most subsidized sectors ever in the EU.

It is a complex and delicate issue. We are approaching 9 billion people on the planet, feeding everyone while respecting the ecosystem and protecting the environment is certainly a challenge. There's no point in denying it. But it's not a challenge that can be won with the rules we've played so far. New ones are needed, but they clearly must take into account the specificities of the different territories. And they must make sure they leave no one behind, because it clearly cannot be the lowest income farmers who pay the price of the transition.

But increasingly frequent extreme climatic events – such as floods, droughts or scorching temperatures – also have a very serious impact in economic terms on agriculture. Adapting agricultural policies to the most urgent objective of the entire planet should be in everyone's interest.

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At Fanpage.it I am deputy area manager of the Politics section. I am passionate about writing about gender battles and the fight against inequalities. From the Roman editorial team, I try to describe everyday political life with new words.

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