Brussels, March 17 - Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on European agriculture ministers to leave their entrenched positions and radically shake-up European agriculture – to make it greener, protect family farming and to reduce its impacts in southern countries. Ministers meet today to agree their first official response to proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.
Friends of the Earth's food campaigner Stanka Becheva says: "European countries need to get out of their entrenched positions and radically shake-up European agriculture. For decades industrial farming has been destroying nature and rural communities in Europe as well as in southern countries. Business as usual is no longer an option."
"The Council of Ministers need to push for an urgent, and fundamental, change in the way farmers are financed so that they can produce good quality products whilst protecting the environment and reducing our impacts in other parts of the world."
Approximately 40% of the EU's budget is spent subsidising farming, with most of it going to industrial agriculture rather than providing the public with sustainable and greener farming. Recent public demonstrations in Germany indicate a growing public demand for a wholesale change in the way farming is supported in Europe .
In addition, European livestock farming is largely dependent on imported soy protein for animal feed, the production of which is a major cause of deforestation and social conflict in South America – Europe currently imports more than two thirds of its protein feed. The European Parliament recently called on the EU to reduce its dependency on imported protein crops. . The Common Agricultural Policy has the potential to reduce this dependency by encouraging farmers in Europe to grow their own feeds , for example by rotating crops with legumes, as part of mandatory measures to receive direct payments.
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for the introduction of strict mandatory environmental and social conditions for direct payments and further support for cultivation and use of home grown protein plants for animal feeds. Ministers must also agree upon ceilings for payments given to big profiteers of agricultural subsidies.
 European Parliament report 'The EU protein deficit: What solution for a longstanding problem?'
 Less soy, more legumes – how Europe can feed its animals without destroying the planet can be found here (http://www.foeeurope.org/agriculture/FoEE_soy_alternatives_briefing_final.pdf)