After nearly three years of negotiations, the European Parliament has approved reforms to the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. This latest round of changes is intended to be more climate-friendly by strengthening biodiversity and adhering to the bloc's latest climate commitments. Another goal is to be fairer to small farms and young farmers, with 10% of direct payments earmarked for small and medium-sized farms.
However, organic farmer Tijs Boelens from Belgium - who falls into this category - said the reforms mean nothing to him: "Again, it's us who get nothing. Once again, we are not being supported. This new CAP reform is business as usual. It's making the big ones bigger than before. We are giving money to the rich with this CAP. I don't know if the people of the European Union understand this. We are giving public money to people who already have a lot of money.”
Boelens and his partners produce around 60 kinds of vegetables but receive just €2,500 per year in European aid.
Another young Belgian producer said she deplores the difficulties faced by new, younger farmers: "For young people like us, it's already very difficult to set up. We don't have any land, we don't have a farmhouse, we don't have any buildings. We work with plastic tents, we build our own sheds with containers. We do what we can.”