Farmers and various farm organizations from across Europe, including Borenbond, Copa-Cogeca, and Asaja Nacional, staged a major protest outside the European Parliament buildings in Brussels on Thursday, June 1. The protest was organized to highlight European farmers’ concerns about the proposed Nature Restoration Law. The president of the Irish Farmers’ Association and Copa-Cogeca vice-president, Tim Cullinan, was one of the leaders from the farm organizations who addressed the protest outside European Parliament buildings.
Cullinan urged the executive vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, to wake up and listen to European farmers. He said, “The farming community has watched with dismay and confusion with regards to how the Nature Restoration Law has developed in the European Parliament over the past months. When farmers and forest-owners say this is too much, we speak from experience. It is us who would be first to be impacted by this law, it is us who would have to bear the cost, it is us who would lose parts if not all of our land for the restoration of peatlands. We simply ask that you listen to our farmers and do not ignore our advice.”
The key message from European farm organizations today was that the proposed Nature Restoration Law threatens the way they produce food and where they produce that food. Lode Ceyssens, the president of Belgian agricultural organization Borenbonds, said, “With the action we are launching today, we want to wake up the policy and make our farmers’ concerns clear in Brussels. For too long, we have been sleepwalking this proposal through the co-decision process. It is time we hit the pause button, send it back to the Commission, and truly ask where they see food producers in Europe fitting into the future of nature restoration.”
Asaja Nacional, the Spanish farmer’s union, also said the proposal was “unworkable and should be returned to sender.” Copa-Cogeca, which represents 22 million farmers and agri-cooperatives in the EU, has also asked MEPs to give their support to “farmers and EU agriculture production”.
The protest comes against the backdrop of both the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Fisheries rejecting the proposed nature restoration opinion. Meanwhile, the IFA farm business committee has also put their concerns directly to Irish MEPs at the European Parliament about a number of issues, including the proposed Nature Restoration Law that may impact on Irish farmers.
The committee met with a number of MEPs at the parliament to highlight these concerns and to share feedback from their members. Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael MEP for Ireland South, believes it is “important to have Irish voices at the table on key European matters linked to agriculture, the environment, and health”.
The proposed Nature Restoration Law is part of the EU’s flagship biodiversity strategy to protect and restore nature by 2030. The law aims to restore degraded ecosystems, such as peatlands, wetlands, and forests, to improve biodiversity and mitigate climate change. However, farmers argue that the law is too prescriptive and will restrict their ability to produce food sustainably.
Farmers also fear that the proposed law will lead to the loss of farmland and reduce their income. The law proposes that at least 10% of agricultural land in the EU be set aside for nature restoration. Farmers argue that this will result in the loss of productive farmland and reduce their income.
The European Commission has defended the proposed law, stating that it will help to restore nature and improve biodiversity. The Commission has also stated that the law will not lead to the loss of farmland or reduce farmers’ income. The Commission has also stated that the law will provide new opportunities for farmers to diversify their income by engaging in nature restoration activities.
In conclusion, the protest staged by farmers and various farm organizations from across Europe outside the European Parliament buildings in Brussels on Thursday, June 1, highlights European farmers’ concerns about the proposed Nature Restoration Law. The farmers argue that the law is too prescriptive and will restrict their ability to produce food sustainably. They also fear that the proposed law will lead to the loss of farmland and reduce their income. The European Commission has defended the proposed law, stating that it will help to restore nature and improve biodiversity.