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LIFE on the farm

Agriculture is essential to everybody, everyday, everywhere. It provides us with food and biomaterial, rural employment and even renewable energy. Furthermore, it plays an important role in maintaining the rural landscape and semi-natural habitats. However, agricultural practices do exert significant pressures on Europe's natural environment and on natural resources.
The European Union (EU) is aware of these pressures and remains fully committed to reducing the environmental impact of agricultural activity. This has been demonstrated by the EU's efforts during the last couple of decades to 'green' its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and by many important pieces of environmental legislation covering soil, water, air and biodiversity, to name just a few, that are either directly or indirectly related to the farming sector.
In view of the future challenges facing agriculture, resulting not only from stricter environmental standards but also from the rapidly changing global marketplace, this new publication, "LIFE on the farm: Supporting environmentally sustainable agriculture in Europe" comes as a timely opportunity to take stock of some recent LIFE-funded innovations in sustainable agriculture. It also coincides with the ongoing CAP 'health check' and the preparations for the EU budget review in 2009.
Complementing the earlier LIFE-Focus publication "LIFE and agri-environment supporting Natura 2000", the latest edition covers a broader range of innovative solutions to help enhance agriculture's influence on the environment. It aims to illustrate the point that, as Mariann Fischer Boel, the Commissioner responsible for Agriculture and Rural Development stated earlier this year, agriculture versus environmental protection is not a 'zero-sum game'.
This LIFE-Focus brochure highlights again the fact that the innovative projects co-financed by the European Commission's LIFE programme since 1992 can produce mutual benefits and synergies for the environment as well as for a wide range of beneficiaries. By doing so, it is relevant not only to environmental experts and conservationists, but will also serve as a valuable source of information for many different environmental stakeholders, particularly the various industries that comprise Europe's agricultural sector.
Featuring 20 project case studies from 11 different countries and co-funded under all three LIFE programme strands, this publication offers a wide variety of practical examples on how to deal with present and future environmental challenges in the agricultural sector. In addition to emphasising the value of knowledge transfer and best practice, the projects also present highly pertinent examples of sustainable agriculture, where natural resources are managed in a holistic manner to ensure that their benefits are also available for future generations.