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?Read the rest

Mapping the CAP 1: Google maps v farmsubsidy.org

Over at farmsubsidy.org you can see the first fruits of a mapping project which aims to place every EU farm subsidy payment on a fully interactive web-based map, powered by the excellent Google Maps. The first country to get the mapping treatment is Sweden, chosen because its government has been by far the most transparent in terms of farm subsidy payments. The map displays some € 7 billion in CAP expenditure in 2 million payments to 114,700 recipients since 2000. We think the map-based interface is a fascinating new platform for bringing the CAP closer to the citizens that pay for it.… Read the rest

GM feed ban crisis

A row over the banning of GM feed by British supermarkets raises wider issues about how far new technology can be used to solve problems of world food shortage. There have been calls for a second ‘green revolution’, but the first green revolution was based on intensive use of fertilisers and irrigation. Fertilisers are rocketing in price while irrigation is a less environmentally friendly option in a time of climate change.

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Irish farmers backtrack on Lisbon vote

Having previously run a highly visible campaign threatening to derail the imminent referendum on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty on account of the EU’s negotiating position in the WTO, the Irish Farmers Association has fallen back into line with it’s longstanding position of support for Irish membership of the EU. As previously noted, Ireland does spectacularly well out of the CAP, and it looks as though the IFA has extracted a promise from the new Irish prime minister Brian Cowen that he was prepared to veto any WTO deal that was bad for Ireland.

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Danish Minister sets out her vision for the CAP

A recent interview with the Danish agriculture minister Eva Kjer Hansen, originally broadcast on Euronews.

Denmark has traditionally been on the reform side of the arguments about the future of the CAP with a a free market approach but emphasising the importance of environmental conservation.

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Rethinking Less Favoured Areas

The Less Favoured Areas directive is one of the few examples of British influence on the design of the CAP. It was originally conceived as the Mountain Areas Directive with France pressing for a definition that would have excluded Britain’s hills and uplands. But the British emphasis on latitude rather than altitude won the day in 1975. Other member states saw the Less Favoured Areas directive as a good route to justify more cash for their farmers and by 1995 56 per cent of the utilised area of the EU was designated as less favoured. In Scotland, 85 per cent of the farmed area has LFA status.… Read the rest