12/03/13 20:47 CET
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Small farmers have protested outside the European Parliament to call for a bigger share of EU agricultural funds.
They staged the demonstrations in Strasbourg as MEPs prepare to vote on reforming farming subsidies.
Bernard Pignon, a French farmer, said thousands of his colleagues in Germany and France were quitting the industry each year.
“We, the small farmers, get 20 percent of EU money. 80 percent goes to big agricultural groups.”
The European Commission wants to cap funding for any individual farm at €300,000, but small farmers say that figure should be much lower.
Green MEP Nikos Chrysogelos said: “The majority of the farmers get 2,000 to 15,000 euros. So, the money should really go to the small and medium farmers and not to the few ones which are mainly big industries and companies.”
Jose Bové, the anti-globalisation protester turned Green MEP, said his political party would name and shame fellow deputies who are perceived to vote in favour of big business.
“What the people are waiting for and the big majority in Europe is to have a fair trade and agriculture and a greening of agriculture,” he told euronews.
“So, this is the beginning. And if the Parliament doesn’t vote correctly, we are going to give the name of all the deputies that are going to vote against the wishes of most of the people in Europe.”
MEPs will decide tomorrow on the Commission’s ‘greening plan, which would make a third of EU farm funds dependent on farmers meeting certain environmental criteria.