The Commission this week produced a Communication on how it proposes to develop and advance agricultural product quality policy in the EU. The Communication is the product of an extensive consultation process which began in 2006 with a stakeholder hearing, followed by a conference in Brussels in February 2007. This in turn led to a Green Paper consultation in 2008 and a High Level Conference on Agricultural Product Quality held in Prague in March 2009.
An Irish Parliamentary Committee has just published the results of its investigation into the pork dioxin crisis in Ireland last December, which led to the slaughter of pigs on a number of farms which had been fed contaminated feed and the recall of all Irish pork products produced since 1 September from the home and export markets. In an earlier post, I provided some background to the crisis. I argued that the contamination incident raised three questions: how was it that the praised EU hygiene controls broke down in this instance? What will be the overall cost to the sector and to the economy of the dioxin contamination and the product recall?
Agriculture is special. It therefore deserves an outstanding dose of public subsidies. Or so we are told. But is there anything that is not special? The standard approach of economists (and others who happen to think clearly though writing about agriculture) is analytical: debunking erroneous claims for subsidies. The problem is that rational argument goes only that far. So the idea is to try something else: making up far-fetched cases in favor of subsidizing non-agricultural sectors. Their resemblance to some pro-CAP arguments would show the latter’s absurdity.