At its October plenary session, the European Committee of the Regions has unanimously adopted an opinion on pastoralism, at the initiative of Jacques Blanc (FR/EPP), mayor of La Canourgue. Maintaining pastoralism is vital for farming across the EU in order to keep rural areas alive, as well as for meeting our environmental and climate-related objectives, argue local government leaders. Keeping grazing going is also conducive to developing tourism in rural areas and helps to safeguard against fires and avalanches. The common agricultural policy (CAP), as well as environmental and social policy, must therefore take greater account of pastoralism.
"The current CAP favours cultivated grassland and lush grass over garrigue, scrubland or mountain forest areas, which is putting livestock farming at risk in many regions. It is essential to redirect CAP support towards extensive livestock farming and to recognise wooded pasture areas as agricultural production areas eligible for basic payments," stressed Jacques Blanc. The CoR is calling for the term "milk, cheese and meat from grazing" to be reserved for products that guarantee that more than 80% of animal feed comes from pasture used during the grazing season.
In many European countries where large carnivore populations are growing, the situation is very damaging for pastoralism. The losses caused by large predators are very significant and are rising. The CoR is calling on the Commission to assess the need to revise the Habitat Directive based on the 2020 State of Nature report, taking into account the results of the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy and the conservation status of the different species and habitats. The CoR is also calling for the biodiversity strategy to be based on a new specific fund for species conservation. "This fund should cover compensation for damage caused by large carnivores, the cost of which is rising sharply, and the protection of livestock, something that can take up an increasing proportion of EAFRD funds at a time when the budget is being significantly reduced," outlined Jacques Blanc.
Local decision-makers are calling for the European Social Fund to promote pastoral occupations.
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