Archive | February, 2008

The milk quota mess

As the debate goes on in the EU about whether milk quotas can be increased by 2 per cent as part of the soft landing when they are eventually abolished in 2015, it is an opportunity to reflect how milk quotas have affected the UK dairy industry. They were introduced in 1984 to ease the [...]

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Well fancy that…

What a difference a change of ministerial portfolio makes! Back in 2006, Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for International Development, was strident in his criticisms of the CAP: “Through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), two fifths of the EU budget goes on subsidies and support to Europe’s farmers who represent 5% of Europe’s population, [...]

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Podcast: February Agriculture Council round-up with Roger Waite

Roger Waite is a long-standing member of the Brussels agricultural press pack and he will be giving a podcast round-up of the monthly Agriculture Council meetings, when farm ministers from all 27 EU member states met to decide the future of EU agriculture and rural development policy. In this month’s meeting, EU farm ministers debated [...]

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Agriculture Council fun: rename the CAP

Agra-Facts is one of the best CAP news sources, although it does come with a fairly hefty price tag that probably puts it out of reach of anyone who is not professionally involved in European agriculture policy. Roger Waite, Agra Facts editor, tells me that he would like to open the Agra Facts competition to [...]

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Ag. Council to debate Health Check on Monday

According to a background note from the Slovenian EU Presidency, the Agriculture Council will hold a policy debate on the Commission’s communication on the “health check” of the CAP at this month’s meeting in Brussels on Monday 18 February.

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Fischler speaks out

I have recently been working with others on an edited collection to be brought out from the Centre for Policy Studies in Brussels which re-visits the Fischler reforms of the CAP. The discussions held in relation to the book, which involved some people who knew Fischler’s work well, confirmed my view that he was someone [...]

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New studies show biofuels increase carbon emissions

Two new studies published in Science magazine add to the mounting evidence that most biofuels are actually increasing carbon emissions, rather than reducing them. The current boom in biofuels in the EU and US is entirely driven by government policies and subsidies, which are invariably presented as a way of addressing climate change by reducing [...]

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Dutch farmers get most subsidy per hectare

One proposal in the Commission’s health check communication of 20 November 2007 is that the member states which still allocate farm subsidies on the basis of historic entitlements should move to the area average system in which allocations are the same across all hectares in a given geographical region. But it looks as though this [...]

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Commission drops plan to reduce ‘fat cat’ farm subsidies

Top Commission officials have confirmed that in the face of opposition from four member states (Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and the UK) as well as many farm unions, Mariann Fischer Boel has dropped plans to cut the very largest farm subsidy payments by 45 per cent. The plan, which would have affected an estimated 23,000 [...]

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Sarko: “La France est de retour en Europe”

Showing soon at a screen near you….

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Food security: woolly thinking and self defeating solutions

As Jack Thurston has well exposed in his recent entry, the “food security” argument seems to be the new rally call for those trying to justify continuation of untargetted payments to farmers, or even a return to production support (albeit disguised as “risk management”, “income insurance” and the like). At a recent debate I was [...]

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WTO Agricultural Chair presents new modalities paper

The Chair of the agricultural negotiations at the WTO, Crawford Falconer, released his latest version of the draft modalities for an agricultural agreement on Friday last 8 February. This is the culmination of a series of intensive meetings since early January among a representative group of some 37 WTO members. Although there are still many [...]

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European Parliament takes aim at CAP direct payments

A new report commissioned by the Budget Committee of the European Parliament makes interesting reading. The report, written by Jorge Núñez Ferrer (a former Commission fonctionnaire) and Eleni A. Kaditi, both of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, aims to asses whether the CAP provides ‘added value’. Núñez Ferrer and Kaditi define this [...]

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Churchill, Malthus, Brown, Barnier and agricultural protectionism

Earlier this week, BBC Radio 4 broadcast Churchill Confidential, a dramatisation of British cabinet meetings chaired by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, records of which have only recently been released into the public domain. In this week’s episode, looking at Churchill’s second term of office (1951-55), we get an overview of the pressing issues of state [...]

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Farm unions split over payment limits

It should come as no surprise that the EU level farm union COPA-COGECA’s response to the Commission’s communication on the CAP health check is reminiscent of King Canute, trying to hold back the tide. What is very interesting, however, is that in important areas the response contains dissenting voices (or ‘reserves’) expressed by a handful [...]

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