Green MEP To Visit Organic Farm To Highlight Need For EU To Support Sustainable Farming & Higher Animal Welfare


Keith Taylor, Green MEP for Oxfordshire and the South East, will visit Step Farm in Faringdon on Friday 14 October to meet with farmer Daphne Saunders to discuss animal welfare issues and the reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural policy.

On Wednesday the European Commission announced plans to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Reforms include giving small landowners in remote areas more financial assistance and reducing the payments made to large landowners. The reforms will also require farmers to carry out certain environmental measures to receive subsidies. 30% of current direct payments to farmers will be conditional on farmers doing more to protect the environment, such as leaving 7-10 per cent of land without crops on it, ensuring arable farms grow at least three crops and extending hedgerows.

Keith and his fellow Green MEPs have argued for stronger measures in the CAP to promote sustainable farming systems. Keith has also been working to raise the issue of poor animal welfare with the UK’s major supermarkets and has called on them to sell either free range meat or meat produced to RSPCA ‘Freedom Food’ standards.

Keith said: “British organic farms are a great example of an approach to food production which is less harmful to the environment, protects biodiversity and ensures a higher level of animal welfare. This week the European Commission proposed changes to the Common Agricultural Policy which are a step in the right direction, but represent a missed opportunity for fundamental reform of farming in the UK. Sustainable farming and food systems are crucial for tackling the challenges agriculture is now confronted with, like climate change, loss of biodiversity and water and soil protection.

Keith continued: “The Common Agricultural Policy should be a vital tool to promote sustainable agriculture and fair incomes for farmers and the Commission’s proposals represent a missed opportunity for fundamental reform. But this is not the end of the road; the proposals will go to the European Parliament later this month. I will work with my Green colleagues to press for a European agriculture policy which takes seriously the challenge of fighting climate change, protecting biodiversity and promoting a food system that offers healthy food and fair distribution of public money for all.”

Keith added: “It’s fantastic that Step Farm has such a high regard for animal welfare. I believe all consumers have a right to know that the meat they eat has not been produced in a way that has a detrimental impact on animal welfare. Earlier this year I wrote to the EU Commission to ask them to put pressure on EU member states to fully enforce the Pigs Directive, which sets out pig welfare standards.”

Step Farm is a 345 hectare mixed farm in the upper Thames valley near Faringdon, where the Saunders family have been producing food organically since 1982. They have a mixture of enterprises including dairy cows, sheep, beef and cereals. Step Farm has a doorstep milk delivery scheme operating in Oxfordshire and its shop supplies organic beef and lamb. Conservation is an important aspect of the work on the farm. A pond has been created and new hedges provide valuable wildlife corridors through the farm. The farm has a site of special scientific interest that supports a host of rare species, including the yellow rattle, hairy buttercup, black hairstreak butterfly and great green cricket.


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