Podcast: Roger Waite's Brussels update

Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts and journalism fellow of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) joins Jack Thurston (GMF Transatlatic Fellow) for a discussion of the current top issues in agriculture policy in Brussels: protests by European dairy farmers, the future of direct payments, what’s in store in the EU budget review and will Mariann Fischer Boel serve a second term as EU Agriculture Commissioner.
Roger Waite’s Brussels update

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Podcast: Roger Waite’s Brussels update

Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts and journalism fellow of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) joins Jack Thurston (GMF Transatlatic Fellow) for a discussion of the current top issues in agriculture policy in Brussels: protests by European dairy farmers, the future of direct payments, what’s in store in the EU budget review and will Mariann Fischer Boel serve a second term as EU Agriculture Commissioner.

Roger Waite’s Brussels update

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UK wheat can compete – so does it need subsidies?

Russia and Romania may be two of the cheapest places in the world to produce wheat, but the UK is only a little way behind. Releasing the result of its Global Cost of Production Challenge, Bidwells Agriculture head of research Carl Atkin, said that despite the higher unit price of inputs in the UK, cost of production per tonne is only marginally higher than in eastern Europe. ‘This is because of the considerable yield advantage the UK has, based on first-class soils and a maritime climate.’

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UK wheat can compete – so does it need subsidies?

Russia and Romania may be two of the cheapest places in the world to produce wheat, but the UK is only a little way behind. Releasing the result of its Global Cost of Production Challenge, Bidwells Agriculture head of research Carl Atkin, said that despite the higher unit price of inputs in the UK, cost of production per tonne is only marginally higher than in eastern Europe. ‘This is because of the considerable yield advantage the UK has, based on first-class soils and a maritime climate.’

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The debate on the post-2013 CAP

The debate on the future of the CAP after 2013 has now started following the informal Farm Council in the Czech Republic earlier this month. Those who want to influence the debate have about twelve months before the Commission publishes a Communication (effectively a White Paper) on future policy in the summer/early autumn of next year. Formal legislative proposals will then be published in the middle of 2011 together with the proposals for the financial perspectives from 2014 to 2019 or 2020.

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The 2006 EU sugar reform in review

Two interesting papers on EU sugar policy recently crossed my desk. One is an account of the ‘new’ sugar regime after the 2006 reform by three legal academics from the University of Barcelona, in which they also examine whether the reformed regime is likely to be compatible with any agreement from the Doha Round negotiations. The other is the one of the series of regular reports by the US Foreign Agricultural Service on EU agricultural markets, this time on the likely impact of the EU sugar reform on ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) and LDC (least developed country) sugar exporters.

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The (re-)distribution of CAP subsidies

Just days before the final ag Council meeting under the Czech EU presidency, member states’ positions on the Council Conclusions are still far apart. Things look a lot like last year when France attempted to show the way to long-term CAP reform, while some states resisted any move that could pre-empt the budget review/financial framework negotiations. CAP defenders are again trying to integrate far-reaching & far-fetched arguments on the benefits of the CAP that would point towards maintaining a big CAP budget and a strong first pillar.

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Green groups score Fischer-Boel 4 out of 10

The Green-10 grouping of European environmental groups (including big-hitters like Birdlife, WWF and Greenpeace) has produced a dismal scorecard of the outgoing European Commission’s environmental record. The report describes Agriculture Commissioner Fischer Boel has having begun well but quickly reverted to a ‘disappointing business-as-usual approach’ to the common agricultural policy.

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What does France think?

France is Europe’s agricultural powerhouse and when it comes to the CAP, it is probably the single most influential member state. So what France thinks is of central importance to the future of EU farm policy. It is therefore good to see the publication of the latest of the national reform profile series at the CAP2020 website, run by the respected Institute for European Environment Policy.

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How decoupled is the Single Farm Payment?

Three of my Irish colleagues at the Teagasc Rural Economy Research Centre have conducted an interesting simulation to estimate the extent to which farmers treat the Single Farm Payment (SFP) as coupled or decoupled. Using the EU-wide partial equilibrium simulation model AGMEMOD, Peter Howley, Kevin Hanrahan and Trevor Donnellan project Irish production in the cattle and cereals sectors (these were the sectors with the most important payments in the pre-SFP era before 2005) under two assumptions: first, that farmers treat the SFP as fully coupled, and second, that they treat the payment as fully decoupled.

They then compare the levels of production that are projected under the alternative assumptions of full and zero coupling with actual observed output values in Ireland over the period 2005-08.

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