Spain sees carbon agriculture as a climate solution – EURACTIV.com
Spain seeks to maintain carbon in soils intended for agriculture in its strategy against climate change with the support of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). However, producers are asking for more funds to compensate for their efforts.
The Spanish government and the autonomous regions are negotiating an implementation plan for the new CAP, which they will send to Brussels before the end of the year.
About 40% of its budget will be allocated to climate and environmental actions. Among the new features are eco-schemes, aid linked to sustainable practices divided between those focused on agroecology, and so-called low-carbon agriculture, which aims to strengthen the retention capacity of soils.
The government has offered incentives to producers to incorporate extensive grazing, sustainable harvests, crop rotation, no-till, conservation agriculture, and cover crops and uncultivated land to protect biodiversity.
The eco-programs will be funded to the tune of 1.107 billion euros per year until 2027, i.e. 23% of direct aid from the CAP (first pillar), as well as an additional 2% charged to environmental expenditure for rural development (second pillar). ).
Although negotiations on direct aid from the first pillar have progressed, measures for the second have yet to be clarified.
Observations to the new CAP
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, reiterated his intention to support farmers in the transition to more sustainable agriculture from an economic, social and environmental point of view.
Farmers’ organizations insist on the need for more support in the face of increasing environmental demands and underline the mitigation capacity of agriculture to capture carbon and prevent its release into the atmosphere.
According to Ignacio López of the Spanish Farmers’ Association (Asaja), Spain has decided that CAP funds will be used to “compensate” for the efforts of producers, who do not see the proposal as “attractive enough”.
“They are asking us for more measures” which will force us to redirect investments or face higher costs “without putting more money on the table” in a context of “a lot of uncertainty”, López tells Efeagro .
It recognizes the need to adopt sustainable practices and tackle problems such as soil erosion or fires.
Carbon in soil
In the European Union (EU), the European Commission is promoting its ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, which aims to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50% and fertilizers by 20% by 2030. In addition, it aims to extend organic farming to 25% of agricultural land.
The plan also includes a carbon generation initiative and a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals.
The representative of the COAG organization at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Andoni García, points out that agricultural production is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and functions as a sink, adding organic matter to the soil.
However, he expresses concern over the possibility that agriculture “enters into the commercialization of carbon credits and is subject to private certifications” due to the risk of speculation.
He argues that more financial support is needed because it is not enough to integrate the increased costs of more sustainable production into food prices, especially when “the EU externalizes these costs” by allowing the importation of low-cost products from third countries. countries.
Promote rural development
In Spain, with 10% ecological farmland, organic farmers said the model change would also help boost rural economies, combining job creation and economic benefits with environmental protection, fighting against climate change and improved animal welfare. .
Meanwhile, the phytosanitary industry is arguing for more investment in precision agriculture with new technologies, innovation and appropriate legislation.
From the UPA organization, technician David Erice believes that soil management can be significantly improved in the Iberian Peninsula with practices such as crop rotation, which “do not endanger the survival of farms in any way. economic view “.
However, he is more critical of the restrictions on the use of phytosanitary products and fertilizers and questions the fact that “farmers find themselves without tools to produce”. It therefore calls for the correct measurement of the impact of the objectives formulated.
“The challenge is to achieve sustainable practices that make farms viable as a whole, and we have been working on this in recent years,” says Erice.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]