Podcast: Latest on health check negotiations with Roger Waite

Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts, talks about how the Commission’s health check proposals have gone down in recent meetings of the Agriculture Council. Debate has been focused on the extent to which EU farm subsidies will be further decoupled from production levels. We look ahead to the French presidency which begins tomorrow and discuss the role of NGOs in the debate over the future of the CAP in both health check and EU budget review.

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New Humboldt University report on global market trends

Another study forecasting higher real food prices for the next decade has recently been published by three authors associated with the Humboldt University in Berlin led by Professor Harald von Witzke. The working paper provides a useful qualitative survey of the reasons why agricultural supply will have difficulty in keeping up with the demand for food and other products of agriculture (including bioenergy). For the more technically minded, it uses a partial equilibrium multi-market model (descended from the venerable SWOPSIM model once supported by the US Department of Agriculture) to provide quantitative estimates of price levels for the key grains and oilseeds which are the focus of the study.

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Barroso's biofuels poll – update

A couple of week’s ago Berlaymole noted the mysterious disappearance of the online poll about EU biofuels policy from the website of the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
The poll had asked respondents the following question:

Should the E.U. stick to its target to reach 10% biofuels by 2020?
– Yes
– No

The results of the poll have never been published and no explanation has been given as to why the poll has been removed. Fear not. We have reinstated the poll on this website, you’ll find it on the sidebar to the left.
Moreover, I’ve written to Barroso’s spokeswoman Leonor Ribeiro Da Silva under the terms of the Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents.

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Barroso’s biofuels poll – update

A couple of week’s ago Berlaymole noted the mysterious disappearance of the online poll about EU biofuels policy from the website of the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

The poll had asked respondents the following question:

Should the E.U. stick to its target to reach 10% biofuels by 2020?
– Yes
– No

The results of the poll have never been published and no explanation has been given as to why the poll has been removed. Fear not. We have reinstated the poll on this website, you’ll find it on the sidebar to the left.

Moreover, I’ve written to Barroso’s spokeswoman Leonor Ribeiro Da Silva under the terms of the Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to documents.

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Manna from heaven? CAP 'spare change' to boost developing country farmers

Surging prices for agricultural commodities means that the EU spends much less on the traditional ‘market measures’ of the CAP such as intervention buying when prices fall below a target price, export subsidies and private storage aid for unsold surpluses. Last year the EU decided to allocate some of this underspend to the Galileo space programme. This year, the proposal is to channel the money to farmers in developing countries who currently suffer from very low productivity.

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Manna from heaven? CAP ‘spare change’ to boost developing country farmers

Surging prices for agricultural commodities means that the EU spends much less on the traditional ‘market measures’ of the CAP such as intervention buying when prices fall below a target price, export subsidies and private storage aid for unsold surpluses. Last year the EU decided to allocate some of this underspend to the Galileo space programme. This year, the proposal is to channel the money to farmers in developing countries who currently suffer from very low productivity.

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Rising food prices and the dangers of imported inflation

When UK Chancellor Alistair Darling wrote to his finance minister colleagues on ECOFIN last month he made the case for reducing agricultural trade barriers and EU farm subsidies as a way of addressing what has become known as the ‘global food crisis’. Quite rightly much of the world’s attention has been focussed on the impact of rising food prices on the world’s poor. But a more motivating factor for the UK could be the fact that higher food prices presents the UK economy with the very serious problem of imported inflation.

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Animal welfare dilemmas

One of the advances made when Franz Fischler was farm commissioner was to recognise farm animals as sentient beings rather than agricultural products. This provided a basis for treating animal welfare as one of the planks of multifunctionality. However, a vet who is an animal welfare expert suggested in a talk (under Chatham House rules) that I attended that this could face a challenge under WTO rules at some point in the future.

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Barroso's disappearing biofuels poll

For the past couple of weeks José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, has been running an online poll on his website, asking visitors to express their opinions on EU’s biofuels policy. At the last count, some 89 per cent of the 60,000 respondents had voted for the EU to drop its biofuels targets, which have been widely criticised for taking food out of the mouths of the world’s hungry to put in the gas tanks of European vehicles. As of today the poll has mysteriously disappeared from President Barroso’s website, and nowhere has the result been announced. Has the President of the Commission been taking election advice from Robert Mugabe?

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