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 20 nov 2021 09:17 

On the presentation of the EU Soil Strategy for 2030


Today the European Commission released a new strategy focused on achieving good soil health by 2030. Soil conservation is at the heart of many farmers work and initiatives, regardless of the production methods; conventional or organic. At European level, a large set of EU policies are already directly and indirectly affecting soil health and are addressing the hazards associated with this highly precious natural resource.

Among others, the CAP, the Water Framework Directive, the Nitrates Directive, the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive, and the Nature Directives are some examples. That is why, at this stage, Copa and Cogeca expect more clarification on how the inclusion of new measures, such as the Soil Health Law, will add to the already existing set of tools, providing comprehensive and concrete means of action for farmers and agri-cooperatives. To be effective, the last thing that the EU farming community needs is a new administrative layer.

The characteristics of soil across the EU vary greatly and it is thus difficult to establish general EU-wide soil quality standards and measures to address soil threats. It is therefore important to acknowledge the differences in regional and national settings in any further actions. While the Soil Strategy acknowledges the importance of subsidiarity in achieving the goals set, it is essential that these are not empty words; and that farmers and foresters from across the EU are not penalized.

Copa and Cogeca welcome the inclusion, in this strategy, of interesting solutions in the field of agriculture concerning the support given to the monitoring of soil status, the priority given to research into innovative technologies to address soil degradation and decontamination and the initiative to publish a guide on the funding opportunities for the protection and sustainable management of soils by 2022.

Copa and Cogeca acknowledge the suggested implementation of tools such as soil health certificates and designation of contaminated soil sites which may be seen as aiding in the restoration of soil in the European Union; however, the Commission must ensure that all tools proposed are added values and do not instead increase the arbitrary red tape for Member States,  farmers and foresters.

As it is essential that the targets set out and put down in the Soil Strategy be scientifically based, we welcome the willingness of the Commission to prepare an impact assessment in the coming months to truly assess how the Soil Health Law will affect the productivity of European farmers and foresters.

 


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