May 29, 2023
Potential overhaul of EU's Industrial Emissions Directive seeks to get major livestock farms covered
The European Parliament's environment committee has adopted its position on EU rules to slash industrial emissions, including from the largest farms, which is in direct contrast to that of their agricultural counterparts, who may now table their own amendments for the final vote.
The proposed overhaul of the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), unveiled by the EU executive in April 2022, aims to reduce harmful emissions coming from industrial installations, whose scope is being expanded to include some of the largest livestock farms in the European Union.
With the vote held on May 24, environment members of the European Parliament
(MEPs) backed the Commission's proposal to extend the IED to include larger-scale cattle farming, as well as more pig and poultry farms.
Concretely, the proposed amendments would see pig farms and poultry farms with more than 200 livestock units (LSUs) and cattle farms with 300 LSU or more fall under the directive – twice that of the Commission's original 150 LSU proposal.
Both figures are thresholds at which fams will be defined as ‘industrial' and therefore penalised under the directive.
However, it does include, for the first time, a reciprocity clause in an effort to ensure imports from producers outside the EU meet requirements similar to EU rules. For the file's rapporteur, centre-right MEP Radan Kanev, the report shows pragmatism.
"If we want the Green Deal to work in practice, we must turn it into an opportunity for citizens and industry," he said, adding that it is also "crucial" we do not put unnecessary bureaucratic burden on farmers."
When the MEPs vote on their final mandate in plenary, they will be ready to negotiate with the other lawmaker, the EU Council, which already agreed on its set of amendments in March.
On that occasion, EU ministers proposed to increase the threshold for industrial livestock farming to 350 LSU for pigs and cattle and to 280 LSU for poultry.
After months of back and forth, EU ministers finally settled on their negotiating position on a proposal to see the EU's industrial emissions slashed, but their final agreement has not gone down well with farming stakeholders.
The outcome was met with a mixed reception, with environmental stakeholders celebrating the inclusion of cattle in the opinion and others pointing out that the committee lacked ambition in other respects.
"For the first time, the ENVI Committee has substantially weakened a European Commission proposal in all relevant points," said centre-right EPP's environmental policy spokesperson Peter Liese, calling this a "turning point" for the ENVI Committee.
Campaign groups also praised the inclusion of cattle farming and the new thresholds for pig and poultry farming but lamented that it did not uphold the ambition of the Commission's original LSU proposal.
The opinion from the parliament's environment committee directly contradicts that of its agricultural counterparts who, as an associated committee on the file, have shared competence on all parts that deal with the livestock sector.
Agriculture MEPs approved their own opinion back in April, calling for cattle to be exempted entirely from the scope of the plans.
This is something rapporteur Kanev acknowledged in the report, where he noted that despite the "strong position and arguments" against the extension of the scope in the AGRI opinions, he chose to "take into account the relevant data on pollution caused by animal-rearing activities" in the report.
He voiced hope that a combination of the fact that only "extensive, organic and family farming under [a] certain scope" and increasing the general threshold from 150 to 300 LSU, where no exemption is applicable, will help win the hearts of their agricultural counterparts.
However, the move failed to appease EU farmer association COPA-COGECA, which criticised the environment committee for showing "no considerations to the EU's farming realities".