In early February 2021, the European Committee of the Regions set out its proposals for farming of the future under the mantel of agro-ecology. The proposals were set out in a detailed ‘opinion’ on the approach, policies, farming practices, reform recommendations for the CAP, and other policies at the local and regional level.
In the opinion, the Committee of the Regions welcomes the Farm to Fork and biodiversities strategies developed by the EU to be implemented by 2030. It goes on to set out recommendations and solutions for protecting the environment, improving animal welfare, and establishing a greater level of regionalism in food production.
In setting out the agro-ecology approach, the opinion takes care to point out that it is not a return to the past, but a forward-looking strategy. It takes into account more than just food production, covering the entire food system, including fair working practices. It focuses on promoting small to medium-sized farms, sustainable tourism and strengthening the position of the farmers in the food chain.
Focus on climate and animal welfare
The broad range of recommendations it makes for the CAP include crop diversification, long crop rotation, mixed-crop live-stock farming, mixing species and the use of seeds that are better adapted to changing climate conditions.
One of the most far-reaching proposals it makes is the end to industrialised rearing practices, such as cage farming, and a shift towards free-range farming. It also recommends mandatory labelling of the husbandry method to provide consumers with more information on which to base their purchasing choices.
The document calls on the EU to coordinate and facilitate a network of municipalities committed to taking measures to promote resilient, sustainable agricultural and food systems.
Download the full Opinion Factsheet from the European Committee of the Regions website.
What is agro-ecology?
Agro-ecology is defined by the OECD as “the study of the relation of agricultural crops and environment.” It is also defined as the study of the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment within agricultural systems.
Agro-ecology is a holistic, inherently multidisciplinary approach that seeks to reconcile agriculture and local communities with natural processes for the common benefit of nature and livelihoods. It uses different sciences to understand elements of ecosystems such as soil properties and plant-insect interactions, as well as using social sciences to understand the effects of farming practices on rural communities, economic constraints to developing new production methods, or cultural factors determining farming practices.