Agricultural ministers from European Union member states agreed on a post-2020 common agricultural policy (CAP) early Wednesday morning, with the intention of furthering more environmentally friendly farming practices.
European Union Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski said ministers had managed to "draw up a compromise in the spirit of constructive cooperation."
Wojciechowski called the agreement a "good starting point for adopting solutions for the next seven years."
Ministers were meeting in Luxembourg until early Wednesday morning in a special agricultural and fisheries council meeting that lasted 48 hours on the agricultural policy which represents the largest slice of EU funding.
Julia Klöckner, minister for Food and Agriculture of Germany, said the ministers had struck a "very good balance", stating that they had achieved a "sound policy".
In a separate statement Klöckner said the agreement was a "milestone for Europe's agricultural policy" insisting that the agreed policy was "greener, fairer, and simpler".
The post-2020 common agricultural policy will include eco-schemes, providing a dedicated budget to farmers who engage in practices such as organic farming and agroforestry, the EU said.
It will also hold farmers to "higher environmental standards", the council said in a statement, and provide "financial support" for adopting better climate practices.
German minister Klöckner said that not all agricultural ministers that were on the same page and said that member states disagreed on the budget for eco-schemes.
The agreement now goes into negotiations with the EU Parliament who already started voting on the agricultural amendments yesterday.
Farmers lobby Copa Cogeca, meanwhile, had called for a swift agreement, citing concerns about fallout from Brexit and the COVID-19 crisis.
But environmentalists have decried the proposals, stating that it largely supports factory farming and that there are few changes from previous policies.
Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU's agriculture policy director, told Euronews that member states can choose what they consider to be eco-schemes.
"It's left to the good will of member states [and there may be some] that will provide farmers will relevant choices that do deliver on environmental terms. But the vast majority of the European land and the vast majority of member states are very likely to simply continue with business as usual despite the dire needs that we have to change," Contiero said.
On the amendments agreed to by some members of the EU parliament on Tuesday during concurrent discussions in the co-legislating body, Contiero said in a statement that the proposals would deal a "death sentence" to small farms.
"For over 60 years, European farm policy has been blind to farming’s impact on nature, rewarding farmers for producing more or expanding their farms," said Contiero said in the statement.