Ball now in German state court to protect species in agriculture –

Germany must do more to promote the protection of biodiversity when implementing EU agricultural reform, the European Commission said. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Species conservation measures can be encouraged within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) through so-called “eco-programs”. These are incentives paid to farmers who voluntarily adhere to environmentally friendly practices and are set at the federal level. They are further defined by “Agri-environmental-climate measures” (AECM) within the second pillar which was designed by the States themselves.

“At the moment, some Länder programs are still being developed. At federal level, with eco-programs, we would like to see a lot more, ”said Jörg-Andreas Krüger, president of the environmental organization NABU, interviewed by EURACTIV Germany.

In particular, the issue of riparian strips and their financing needs to be improved in the interest of species protection, Krüger said.

According to Guy Pe’er, researcher in biodiversity and environment, such ecological systems in principle have potential. “These are funds that can really benefit biodiversity,” he said. However, whether eco-programs ultimately add value for the protection of species, it depends on the details of their design.

How will Germany implement the green goals of the CAP?

EU agriculture ministers agreed in July on a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that promotes ‘greener’ farming practices, with terms like ‘eco-programs’ and environmental ‘conditionality’ at the center negotiations. But what does this mean in concrete terms for German agriculture? EURACTIV Germany reports.

Designed by Federal States

According to the ecologist, it is crucial that farmers can decide for themselves which eco-programs they want to implement.

“We cannot expect that all eco-programs will do something for biodiversity,” Pe’er explained. There is therefore a risk that a large part of the money will go into inefficient eco-programs for biodiversity conservation.

Among the eco-programs planned to date in Germany, Pe’er mainly envisages the promotion of fallows, which could be used by field birds, certain species of butterflies or bees.

Regarding the second pillar agri-environmental measures, it is currently unclear how the protection of species in agriculture will be promoted in the future, as the programs of the different Länder are still ongoing. development.

In Saxony-Anhalt, for example, Pe’er is already seeing good approaches. For example, the state wants to follow the so-called Dutch model, in which several farmers are paid jointly for the implementation of collective measures.

“The same money can be used more efficiently if there is good planning and measures are implemented jointly by several farmers because then we reach the landscape level and not just a field or a small area,” he said. -he explains.

New German insect protection legislation draws a gap

Farmers always say they care about the environment, while environmental organizations demand increasingly stringent regulations for the agricultural industry. With the new German insect protection law, the conflicts of interest between the two groups have reached a new height. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Commission insists on biodiversity

In his recommendations for the national strategic plan of the CAP of Germany, the European Commission pointed out that so far “the decline of protected habitats and species associated with agricultural land” has “not been reversed or stopped” in Germany. For example, 90% of grassland habitats are in poor condition and are deteriorating.

In the Commission’s view, Germany should therefore take action to stop and reverse the deterioration of biodiversity. According to the Commission, special attention should be paid to the protection of field birds and pollinators.

In its document, the Commission also highlighted the use of pesticides, claiming that “German production models are highly dependent on the use of inputs such as pesticides”.

Although Biodiversity and Farm-to-Fork Strategies, two flagship EU initiatives, aim for a 50% reduction in global use of chemical pesticides and hazardous pesticides by 2030, Germany is lacking always effective controls on the use of integrated pest management. , says the Commission.

In order to better track pesticide use, the environmental organization NABU also recently called for national disclosure of data on pesticide use. A study published in June found pesticide contamination in 81% of the streams examined, well beyond state limits.

Pesticide reduction

“The authorization procedure for pesticides is obviously based on false assumptions about their storage and concentration in the environment. Therefore, the risk posed by pesticides to insects is also estimated to be lower in the procedure than it actually is, ”said NABU President Jörg-Andreas Krüger, calling on the new federal government to “Rapidly review and develop risk assessment procedures. and authorizations ”.

As part of the insect protection package adopted by the federal government at the start of the year, an amendment to the regulations on the use of plant protection products entered into force on 8 September. Along with tighter restrictions on the use of pesticides, it also plans to phase out the use of glyphosate by 2023.

But farmer organizations criticized the insect protection package as well as the farm-to-fork strategy pesticide reduction targets.

“We are very critical of the politicization of these reduction targets,” Udo Hemmerling, deputy general secretary of the German Farmers’ Association, told EURACTIV Germany. The approach proposed by the Commission could lead to “seeing us migrate significant parts of domestic production,” Hemmerling said.

The DBV had also spoken out against the disclosure of pesticide data required by NABU.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

James R. Rhodes