Increased willingness of the agricultural sector to adopt measures against climate change was evident, coupled with demand of flexibility and budget incentives, at the informal meeting of EU ministers for agriculture.
Jari Leppa, the Finnish minister for agriculture, said the discussions in Helsinki contributed to the Finnish goal of creating “a joint understanding on EU climate policy”.
In a poll carried out among the ministers, however, the view prevailed that consumers should nevertheless pay more attention to the cost and origin of the food rather than the climate impact of its production.
Carbon sequestration in agricultural land was the specific topic reviewed at the meeting.
Leppa said that active participation of farms in carbon capture also helps change the role of farmers in the climate issue. “The farmers will become key providers of solutions,” he said.
Leppa admitted that there are uncertainties as the impact of carbon sequestration measures will only show after a long period and he underlined that the transformation needs financing.
Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said at the press conference that “a new reality is dawning on all sectors” and he saw it very much in agriculture today.
Hogan noted that the council of ministers has reviewed the commission’s proposals to reform the EU common agricultural policy for over a year now, and he hoped it would start reaching conclusions under Finland’s current presidency of the Council of the EU.
He said that there is a growing realization among the ministers of agriculture that the proposals published by the commission in 2018, which seemed to be ambitious at the time, are now actually necessary.
As one future alternative, Hogan mentioned a points-based system where farmers could be rewarded on account of better practices.