The EU is undecided on farms: to punish or reward them?

Reward or punish farms? Doubt is roaming the chambers of European institutions and has been shaped by the voting in recent months. The crack is consumed especially in the opposing positions between the Environment and Agriculture commissions. The first voted by a clear majority on May 24 to include barns with more than 300 adult cattle in the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). But the latter, earlier in the week (May 22), revoked the nature conservation directive, which calls for about 20% of the land to be removed from (but not exclusively) agricultural production to begin restoring biodiversity. It is the general system proposed by the European Commission, starting with the Green Deal, which shows some contradictions as well as the conflicts between the commissions due to the overlap of powers. European rulers have certainly lost support among farmers as they have proposed too “punitive” rules against them.

including cattle

In the Environment Committee, Members of the European Parliament supported the Commission’s proposal to expand the IED to cover a variety of plant species, including intensive agriculture. The latter was already introduced in the previous legislation, but only for chickens and pigs. While cattle barns are excluded despite being among the main culprits of methane emissions, red meat is accused of causing health problems when it exceeds the diet. Specifically, with regard to farms, Members of the European Parliament voted to include pig and poultry farms with more than 200 animal units (AWU) and cattle farms with 300 AWU or more. Where more than one such animal is raised on farms, the limit should be 250 aula. Following input from member states’ environment ministers, Members of the European Parliament proposed instead to exclude companies that commonly raise livestock, regardless of their number. In its original proposal, the Commission proposed a lower threshold of 150 adults for all livestock. Therefore, MPs would have met the demands of agricultural organizations, who nevertheless said they were greatly disappointed with the vote. They aimed at the complete exclusion of cattle barns.

What does the directive include?

Specifically, the directive on industrial emissions lays down the rules for the prevention and control of pollution caused by emissions to air, water and soil from large agro-industrial plants. It is seen as a pillar of the European Green Deal, the environmental agreement launched to ensure the green and circular transition of EU industry. Plants covered by the legislation can only operate if they have a permit issued by the national authorities, with the exception of some farms that are only required to be registered. To better prevent and control pollution, the revision of the directive requires national authorities to further lower the emission limit values ​​for pollutants on the basis of so-called “best available techniques” (BAT). revision of authorizations or new conditions are defined.


The regulation on industrial emissions was adopted by 78 votes to 3 with 5 abstentions. “Our position provides businesses breathing space through flexibility for expedited permitting procedures and evolving techniques, as well as reasonable transition periods to prepare for new requirements,” Radan Kanev, rapporteur from the People’s Party for Bulgaria, said after the vote. The new rules are realistic, economically feasible and do not threaten competitiveness.

higher costs

Copa-Cogeca organization, where European companies and cooperatives are gathered under the roof, immediately condemned the Environment Commission’s vote. “Since its introduction in 2010, experience with IED has shown that its implementation is costly and administratively burdensome. Extending it to many animal holdings … could have unsustainable consequences for producers, their families and our rural areas,” the organization said. a phrase. According to his calculations, 1 out of 2 pig and poultry farms in Europe will be covered by the new thresholds. Farmers fear that both bureaucratic and financial overhead will fall on their shoulders.

Consistency issue

According to Copa-Cogeca, the decision “raises questions about the general coherence of EU decision-making approaches when it comes to livestock, which will one day be seen as a solution provider; punishable by biogas on farms and an IED the next day”. In its energy resources plan, the European Commission actually focused on renewable energy sources alongside biogas and biofuels to accelerate the energy transition and free itself from Vladimir Putin’s dependence on gas. Therefore, both Germany and France have undertaken and/or accelerated the construction of large biogas plants to more efficiently recover fertilizers and other substances produced by the agricultural sector to obtain “clean” energy.

The adoption of the directive on industrial emissions by Parliament is scheduled for the plenary meeting in July 2023, after which negotiations with the Council will begin to define new legislation. Meanwhile, farmers promise to continue to lobby MEPs and member states for further discounts or special treatment in this area.

Source: Today IT