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Surveys show need for more and better information on antimicrobial resistance (#AMR)

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Investment-in-New-Veterinary-AntibioticsThere is a clear need for wide-reaching factual information programmes on AMR according to several recent surveys on consumer perceptions and awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This points to the growing need for greater understanding and demonstrates that science-based information should be one of the main points of action for the upcoming EU Action Plan to combat antimicrobial resistance, says IFAH-Europe.
The European Food Safety Authority’s recently published report on Perceptions on the human health impact of and antibiotics use in animals across the EU echoes the findings of the Commission’s Eurobarometer on Antimicrobial Resistance awareness, which showed that knowledge of citizens across the EU remains low. Indeed these findings concur with IFAH-Europe’s citizens’ survey carried out in 2016 which showed that 69% of respondents have concerns about antibiotic-resistant bacteria from farm animals being passed to people and 49% think that the use of antibiotics in farm animals makes antibiotics less effective for people. EFSA’s report shows that 57% of respondents said they did not receive any information about resistance to antibiotics over the past year and 61% said that they don’t have enough knowledge about the use of antibiotics in farmed animals.
 
This reinforces IFAH-Europe’s belief that information campaigns should be an essential part of the second EU action plan on AMR if we are to avoid the eventuality that misinformation becomes the norm. When people look to non-scientific sources for information on such complicated issues, we rely on public authorities to ensure that the facts are accessible, understandable and take precedence over leading or vague assumptions, or extrapolating ‘facts’ from a selection of limited data.
“IFAH-Europe will point to information sharing to be anindispensable element of the action plan in our response to the Commission’s Consultation on possible activities under a 'Commission Communication on a One Health Action Plan to support member states in the fights against Antimicrobial Resistance. The animal health industry wishes to actively contribute to providing factual guidance for the development of educational materials or courses for both veterinarians and farmers on the responsible use of all animal health products. We are also open to providing information for consumer-targeted informative campaigns," said IFAH-Europe Secretary General, Roxane Feller.

Agriculture

A greener, fairer, and more robust EU farm policy

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MEPs want to make the EU farm policy more sustainable and resilient to continue to deliver food security across the EU ©AdobeStock/Vadim 

The EU’s future farm policy should be more flexible, sustainable, and crisis-resilient, so that farmers can continue to deliver food security across the EU. MEPs on Friday (23 October) adopted their position on the post-2022 EU farm policy reform. The EP negotiating team is now ready to start talks with EU ministers.

Moving towards a performance-based policy

MEPs endorsed a policy shift that should better tailor the EU’s farm policy to the needs of individual member states but they insist on maintaining a level playing field across the Union. National governments should draft strategic plans, which the Commission will endorse, specifying how they intend to implement EU objectives on the ground. The Commission would be checking their performance, not only their compliance with EU rules.

Promoting better environmental performance of EU farms

The objectives of strategic plans shall be pursued in line with the Paris Agreement, MEPs say.

Parliament strengthened mandatory climate and environmentally-friendly practices, the so-called conditionality, that each farmer must apply to get direct support. On top of that, MEPs want to dedicate at least 35% of the rural development budget to all types of environmental and climate-related measures. At least 30% of the direct payments budget should go to eco-schemes, which would be voluntary but could increase farmers’ income.

MEPs insist on setting up farm advisory services in every member state and allocating at least 30% of their EU-sponsored funding to help farmers fight climate change, manage natural resources sustainably, and protect biodiversity. They also call on member states to encourage farmers to dedicate 10% of their land to landscaping that is beneficial to biodiversity, such as hedges, non-productive trees, and ponds.

Reducing payments to bigger farms, supporting small and young farmers

MEPs voted to progressively reduce annual direct payments to farmers above €60 000 and cap them at €100 000. However, farmers could be allowed to deduct 50% of agriculture-related salaries from the total amount before reduction. At least 6% of national direct payments should be used to support small and medium-sized farms but if more than 12% is used, the capping should become voluntary, MEPs say.

EU states could use at least 4% of their direct payments budgets to support young farmers. Further support could be granted from the rural development funding where young farmers’ investments could be prioritized, MEPs say.

Parliament stresses that EU subsidies should be reserved only for those who engage in at least a minimum level of agricultural activity. Those who operate airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services, permanent sports and recreational grounds should be automatically excluded.

Veggie burgers and tofu steaks: No change in labelling plant-based products

MEPs rejected all proposals to reserve meat-related names for products containing meat. Nothing will change for plant-based products and the names they currently use when being sold.

Helping farmers deal with risks and crises

Parliament pushed for further measures to help farmers cope with risks and potential future crises. It wants the market to be more transparent, an intervention strategy for all agricultural products, and practices aiming for higher environmental, animal health, or animal welfare standards to be exempt from competition rules. They also want to turn the crisis reserve, helping farmers with price or market instability, from an ad-hoc instrument to a permanent one with a proper budget.

Higher sanctions for repeated breaches and EU complaints mechanism

Parliament wants to increase sanctions for those who repeatedly fail to comply with EU requirements (e.g. on the environment and animal welfare). This should cost farmers 10% of their entitlements (up from today’s 5%).

MEPs also want an ad-hoc EU complaints mechanism to be set up. This would cater to farmers and rural beneficiaries who are treated unfairly or disadvantageously with regard to EU subsidies, if their national government fails to deal with their complaint.

Results of the vote and more information

The strategic plans regulation was approved by 425 votes in favour to 212 against, with 51 abstentions.

The regulation on common market organization was approved by 463 votes in favour to 133 against, with 92 abstentions.

The regulation on financing, management and monitoring of the CAP was approved by 434 votes in favour to 185 against, with 69 abstentions.

More information about the approved texts is available in the background note.

Statements by the Chair of the Agriculture Committee and the three rapporteurs are available here.

Background

The last reform of the EU farm policy, established in 1962, dates back to 2013.

Current CAP rules expire on 31 December 2020. They should be replaced by transitional rules until the ongoing CAP reform is agreed and approved by the Parliament and Council.

The CAP accounts for 34.5% of the 2020 EU budget (€58.12 billion). Around 70% of the CAP budget supports the income of six to seven million EU farms.

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Agriculture

Commission welcomes Council agreement on future Common Agricultural Policy

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On 20 October, the Council agreed on its negotiating position, the so-called general approach, on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform proposals. The Commission welcomes this agreement, a decisive step towards entering the negotiation phase with the co-legislators.

Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said: “I welcome the progress made and the general approach on the Common Agricultural Policy reached over the night. This is an important step for our farmers and our farming community. I am grateful for member states' constructive cooperation and I trust this agreement will help ensure that European agriculture can continue to provide economic, environmental and social benefits for our farmers and citizens in future.”

The European Parliament is also voting on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposals during the Plenary session, with voting sessions scheduled until today (23 October). Once the European Parliament agrees on a position for all three CAP reports, the co-legislators will be able to enter into the negotiation phase, with a view to reach an overall agreement.

The Commission presented its CAP reform proposals in June 2018, aiming at a more flexible, performance and results-based approach, while setting higher environmental and climate action ambitions. Following the adoption of the Farm to fork and biodiversity strategies, the Commission presented the CAP reform's compatibility with the Green Deal's ambition.

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Agriculture

Commission organizes first Farm to Fork 2020 conference 

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On 15 October European Green Deal Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans, together with  Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski opened the Farm to Fork 2020 conference - Building sustainable food systems together. The virtual conference will also take place today (16 October), it being World Food Day. This conference is the first in what will be an annual gathering of European stakeholders willing to engage and help shape the EU's path towards sustainable food systems.

More than 1,000 stakeholders across the food value chain, public authorities, international and civil society organizations, as well as members of the public have registered to join the debate and contribute to the implementation of the Farm to Fork Strategy, adopted earlier this year. At the heart of the European Green Deal, the strategy aims at a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. The event will also provide a forum for discussion on the challenges and opportunities linked to the transition to sustainable food systems, as well as on possible further areas of intervention The whole event is accessible via web streaming.

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