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It’s not easy being green… or is it? In this out-and-about edition of Talking Europe, we cross the border to Germany, the country that’s been leading a green wave of support for environmentally-concerned political parties around the European Union. Our mission: to look at how well EU countries have been doing on one of the major contributors to carbon emissions: farming.
Recent figures show that around 10 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture of all kinds… something a policy known as greening was supposed to address, as well as reducing excessive use of chemicals, and increasing the amount of organic farming.
However in summer 2020, the French state auditors said the EU’s greening policy was failing.
So with new policies being debated and voted into action, plus the added pressures of coronavirus, how green is the future of European farming looking?
In our programme we compare and contrast visions of greening in Germany and France.
We speak with German Green MEP Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg about how the EU has to accelerate its plans to encourage farmers to be greener, as its current greening program is falling short of the initial ambitions.
Meanwhile, agricultural policy expert Christine Wieck of Hohenheim University explains what Germany farming is doing right and wrong in meeting greening targets.
Of course, European farmers have to confront those greening challenges despite the Covid-19 crisis. Our reporters Luke Brown and Céline Schmitt went to meet some German farmers who complain EU and state aid was barely enough to survive the pandemic’s first wave – and who don’t know how they can realistically meet the EU’s greening targets.
But for some agricultural sectors – like fruit and vegetable farmers – the pandemic has had its upsides. Direct sales to consumers have increased, allowing farmers to cut out the middleman. In Germany, discount retailers have long held the upper hand in price negotiations – but the pandemic has turned the tables. Some farmers are hoping that will continue and have launched their own local labels to make the most of it.