19 January 2001
Fischler backs Green farm minister

By Philip Clarke, Europe editor

EUROPEAN farm policy is set for a “greener” hue after agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler praised new German farm minister Renate Künast.

In Berlin for annual Green week, Mr Fischler indicated Ms Künast – co-leader of the German Green party – would receive a warm welcome in Brussels.

“Minister Künast will not have to try and break down the doors in Brussels: they are already wide open,” said Mr Fischler.

Agenda 2000 had gone some way towards making agriculture more sustainable and moved towards assistance for more extensive production.

It also provided funds to promote organic farming and other environmental services, said Mr Fischler.

“But member states actually have to use these possibilities.”

In 1999, Germany spent some Euro60 million (38m) of European and national funding on organic farming. “More is undoubtedly possible.”

Member states also had the option of limiting direct aid payments to large farms and using this money for additional environmental measures.

“France and the UK already do this, but not Germany,” he stated.

Mr Fischler said reform of the Common Agricultural Policy must continue.

“The BSE crisis has taught me that we have to encourage and promote environmentally-friendly production methods which respect animal welfare.”