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Breakfast with Belle in Makkinga: Dutch MEP says Common Agricultural Policy must change

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Belle Donati in Makkinga
Belle Donati in Makkinga -
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In the run-up to the European elections, Good Morning Europe host Belle Donati is travelling across the continent to meet Members of the European Parliament in their own constituencies. She's taking breakfast with them to talk about how they take their coffee - and how they want to change Europe.

This week she travels to Makkinga, to meet with Dutch MEP Jan Huitema from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Thank you for hosting us here at your home, of course, this isn’t just your home, this is where you do part of your daily business isn’t it?

Sure – from Monday to Thursday, I’m in Brussels and from Friday, Saturday to Sunday, I’m here on the farm milking the cows. We have 130 dairy cows here on 80 hectares of land, and I’m, very proud of this farm.

Now, you’re the first member of this farm that we’ve gone to meet, who’s invited me into their home, why do you think that might be?

We’ll I want to show of course, where I am from, to show that politicians should come, not only from the city life but from the city life, but also from rural areas. I think a lot of people live there, and it’s important to defend their interests inside the European parliament and of course there are a lot of policies concerning agriculture, climate – all the green topics, so to say, it’s an important topic to discuss.

Let’s talk about what you’re known for, what’s important to you. What is the most important issue to you within Europe at the moment?

At the moment, we are talking about the Common Agricultural Policy, it’s key, and of course it’s 40% of the European budget, so it’s huge. I think we can spend the money in a much better way. Now it’s mainly subsidising land ownership, you have direct income support and we really should think about how we can make the farmers in the European Union independent of income support.

So let’s try and get some detail on that, if you were to rewrite the Common Agricultural Policy, and I know it would take a while, how would it work?

First of all, you should increase the bargaining power of the farmers, so that’s with competition law, you have to make some derogations. And try to organise the farming community in a better way, for example with Cooperatives. I think that’s a good solution, maybe there are some different forms, but cooperatives are a good example.

Secondly, how to spend money. I don’t think we should link it to how much land you have, and how it’s linked to one hectare of land – you should link the money to results.

Cattle farming is known to be the most emission producing farming. How do you reconcile those two objectives?

Agriculture is one of the few sectors that can curb CO2 from the air to inside the soil. We can, with organic matter, store CO2 in the soil.

Click on the player above to watch the full report.