Agri Commissioner admits data weakness in EU plans to slash emissions

EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski defended the European Commission’s ambition to slash emissions in livestock farming, despite acknowledging weaknesses in the data collection process used to put the proposal together.

The proposed overhaul of the directive, unveiled by the EU executive in April 2022, aims to reduce harmful emissions coming from industrial installations, the scope of which is being expanded to include some of the largest livestock farms in the EU.

The Commission put forward its proposal, including its controversial proposed threshold of 150 ‘livestock units’ (LSUs) – the point at which farms will be defined as ‘industrial’ and therefore penalised under the directive (see below for details).

The threshold has been a point of contention for many stakeholders, including EU agriculture ministers, who deem it too low, thus unfairly penalising smaller farmers.

Asked whether he stands by the Commission’s figure of 150 LSU in light of the backlash, EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski told EURACTIV on the sidelines of a recent event that he was aware this was a “generally controversial directive”.

Despite this, he stressed that, as a member of the Commission, he “has to support the political Commission position”.

However, the Commissioner impressed the importance of taking the “specific situation across the sector more into account”, pointing out that he has “presented his reservations” on the proposal and successfully lobbied to increase the LSU figure from 100 to 150.

For the Commissioner, the most important question is not the number of livestock on a farm, but the method of farming.

“These [larger] farms can be also sustainable, this is not the question of the number of units,” he said, pointing to cattle farms that practise extensive and summer grazing.

“This is not similar to industry, this is a question first of all of the type of farming,” he said, pointing to differences within the agriculture sector, such as between cattle and poultry farms.


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