Achieving economic sustainability
Viable farms are at the heart of agriculture in the EU. Without the ability to deliver a stable and rewarding income, agriculture would not be able to supply its essential products and services for society. The common agricultural policy (CAP) therefore includes several measures to ensure the economic viability of farms. The economic measures of the CAP must also be sustainable, and focus on how available natural resources can be used efficiently and responsibly to provide a decent living without causing harm to the environment.
The economic consequences of the changing environment have become increasingly apparent across Europe through the disruption brought by unstable weather conditions, such as droughts and floods, resulting in lower yields and falls in farm income. Therefore, the actions of the CAP that safeguard the environment are also in place to protect the long-term economic viability of agriculture.
However, a sustainable system of agriculture relies on an active and engaged farming sector and it is imperative that environmentally-friendly farming can be economically viable and profitable in the short term.
The CAP sets out to achieve economic sustainability by:
- supporting the livelihood of farmers through implementing a fair system of income support and achieving greater equality in the agri-food supply chain;
- strengthening the link between income support and environmental measures through cross-compliance and green direct payments;
- providing rural development support to ensure that environmental practices and investments are economically sustainable for farmers.
In a wider sense, agriculture can play a part in a sustainable economy by contributing biomass to fuel the bioeconomy and reduce the reliance on carbon-based energy. In turn, the production of biomass offers sustainable economic opportunities for farmers, foresters, and rural communities.
The future CAP will ensure continued access to high quality food and strong support for the European farming model. It will be structured around nine key objectives, three of which focus on the economic sustainability of EU agriculture:
- support for viable farm income and resilience across the Union to enhance food security;
- the enhancement of market orientation and increased competitiveness, including a greater focus on research, technology and digitalisation;
- an improvement in the position of farmers in the value chain.
The role of knowledge and innovation
Knowledge and innovation can help farming to remain profitable in both the present and the future:
- research and innovation can provide new techniques and technologies to improve productivity without putting extra strain on the environment, while the farm advisory system can ensure that farmers are kept informed about the latest developments and improvements;
- the agricultural European innovation partnership (EIP-AGRI) fosters and spreads innovative ideas to help farmers to produce “more and better from less”.