More on Irish pigmeat compensation

The European Council at its last meeting under the French Presidency on 11-12 December had a weighty agenda, discussing the EU energy and climate change package, the European economic recovery plan and agreeing with the Irish government an approach which might allow the Lisbon Treaty to enter into force before the end of 2009. The Council also welcomed the political agreement on the CAP Health Check and, in a move surely made with one eye on the upcoming second referendum in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty, it “expressed its support for Ireland’s effort to deal with the situation relating to pigmeat and its prompt precautionary action.

Read the rest

Food safety rules as protection or protectionism?

SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary standards) barriers figured prominently in the final Agricultural Council of 2008 under the French Presidency. Agricultural Ministers agreed Council Conclusions on the safety of imported agricultural and agri-food products and compliance with Community rules. At the same meeting, EU Farm Ministers rejected a Commission proposal to allow the use of antimicrobial substances to treat poultry carcasses, which would have re-opened the Community market to US imports. Is there a danger that food safety protection becomes an excuse for protectionism?

Read the rest

Dairy quota row highlights industry divisions

Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel’s proposal for five annual dairy quota increases of 1 per cent each, adopted unchanged by farm ministers, is under attack from two sides. The Commission believes that this is a sure sign that it has negotiated a fair middle path through a morass of conflicting objectives. A less charitable interpretation would be that the needs of an internationally competitive industry have been partially sacrificed to those of marginal farmers with political clout.

Read the rest

The Estonian vision

A charming young Estonian woman greeted me at the European Parliament yesterday when I went to give evidence to the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (of which more in due course). Of broader significance Estonia is probably the only new member state with a clear concept of how the CAP should evolve. This is outlined in an Agra Focus interview with farm minister Helir-Valdor Seeder.

Read the rest

Court of Auditors' report on cross compliance is damning

It’s no wonder that the Commission suppressed the Court of Auditors report on cross compliance for as long as it could – the report is damning and undermines the Commission’s case for the legitimacy of EU farm subsidies.
Speaking in 2005, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel explained how she sees cross compliance in relation nearly 40 billion euros of public expenditure on payments to farmers:

“I would emphasise that decoupled payments are not “money for nothing”. To get the cheque in the post, a farmer has to respect a demanding range of standards related to the environment and animal welfare. We call this system “cross-compliance”.”

Today’s report by the Court shows that such a view is at best wishful thinking and at worst deliberately deceitful.

Read the rest

Court of Auditors’ report on cross compliance is damning

It’s no wonder that the Commission suppressed the Court of Auditors report on cross compliance for as long as it could – the report is damning and undermines the Commission’s case for the legitimacy of EU farm subsidies.

Speaking in 2005, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel explained how she sees cross compliance in relation nearly 40 billion euros of public expenditure on payments to farmers:

“I would emphasise that decoupled payments are not “money for nothing”. To get the cheque in the post, a farmer has to respect a demanding range of standards related to the environment and animal welfare. We call this system “cross-compliance”.”

Today’s report by the Court shows that such a view is at best wishful thinking and at worst deliberately deceitful.

Read the rest

Questions from Irish pigmeat contamination crisis

Europe’s lastest food safety incident stems from the confirmation of elevated levels of dioxins in Irish pigmeat last Saturday. As a result, all Irish pork and bacon products from pigs slaughtered in Ireland since 1st September 2008 have been recalled. Consumers have been advised, as a precautionary measure, not to consume Irish pork and bacon products at this time and to dispose of any purchased since the 1st of September 2008. The discovery of this contamination – which has been sourced back to a small feed mill recycling bakery and confectionery waste for animal feed – is a calamity for the Irish pig sector and could yet have major adverse consequences for the Irish food processing sector as a whole.

Read the rest

Implications of reforming the basis for SPS payments

A recent paper by Beatriz Velaquez from the European Commission throws light on the consequences of moving towards a flat-rate scheme for SPS payments. Drawing on the Impact Analysis for the CAP Health Check proposals and using the FADN database of farm accounts, she examines three options (a) a flat rate scheme with equal payments per hectare across Member States; (b) a flat rate scheme with equal payments per hectare within Member States; and (c) a flat rate scheme with equal payments per entitlement. Her provocative conclusion is that an EU-wide flat rate would do nothing to improve the distributional equity of the SPS payment scheme.

Read the rest