The opening shots of the battle to frame the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and dictate farming’s role in the fight on climate change were fired in Brussels over the last week.

Proposals to price emissions from farm output into food costs are facing intense opposition from the agriculture arm of the European Commission.

The agriculture directorate of the Commission, DG Agri, is involved in a major drive to remove all references to the “pricing of emissions” into farm produce from the draft text of a policy document produced by the climate action directorate, DG CLIMA.

Meanwhile, the co-operative and farmer representative organisation COPA-COGECA warned the Commission against using the next CAP as a tool to achieve the EU’s climate change and environmental objectives.


The farm lobby’s reservations were outlined in a letter to the various arms of the Commission that deal with agriculture, the environment and climate change.

The climate action section is in the process of finalising details on a 2040 climate target for the EU, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 90% compared to 1990.

Led by Climate Action Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra, DG CLIMA is setting out the contributions needed from each sector.

In terms of agriculture, the document identifies livestock production and the use of chemical and organic fertilisers as representing an important share of GHG emissions in 2040.


The climate action side of the Commission contends that a 30% reduction in GHG emissions relative to 2015 could be achieved by such actions as:

  • Pricing emissions into food, thereby influencing consumer choices;
  • The adoption of what it describes as precision farming in the application of slurry and fertiliser;
  • Switching to regenerative agriculture and agroforestry, or paludiculture on rewet peatlands such as the production of biomass under wet conditions.
  • However, the agriculture directorate is against any references to an overall carbon removal target. It claimed the draft document lacked detail on the economic impact on farmers’ incomes and food security, food costs to consumers and issues such as carbon leakage.