Back to butter mountains?

It’s a familar scenario: the milk price falls; farmers come out to the street; and the Commission starts to panic. Following a ‘milk strike’ across Europe, an emergency meeting is to be held by farm ministers on October 5th. Nineteen member states have signalled support for a Franco-German initiative for an aid package for dairy farmers. However, farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, insists that there is no prospect of reversing the decision to abandon dairy quotas as part of the CAP reform process.

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Do we need a "common" agricultural policy?

The final paragraph of Commissioner Fischer Boel’s valedictory leaflet is revealing and foreshadows the debate that has yet to surface about the future of the CAP after 2013, the end of the current financial perspective. Mrs Fischer Boel makes the case for maintaining a common European agriculture policy among the EU’s 27 member states, presumably funded from the EU budget, as it is now.

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Do we need a “common” agricultural policy?

The final paragraph of Commissioner Fischer Boel’s valedictory leaflet is revealing and foreshadows the debate that has yet to surface about the future of the CAP after 2013, the end of the current financial perspective. Mrs Fischer Boel makes the case for maintaining a common European agriculture policy among the EU’s 27 member states, presumably funded from the EU budget, as it is now.

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Changes in GM feedstuffs rules on the way?

There now seems to be momentum building up to change EU rules on GM feedstuffs in order to assist the future of the pig and poultry industries in Europe, with the Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel waxing eloquent on this issue on her blog last week after she raised the issue at the monthly Agricultural Council. According to a Reuters report, the Commissioner has indicated that a proposal on a maximum level for GMO residues in imports should be ready before the end of the year.

The problem arises for two reasons. The first is that the EU has tended to lag behind other countries in the approval of new GM varieties for use in animal feedstuffs.

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Informal meeting Agricultural Ministers in Sweden 14-15 September to discuss agriculture and climate change

The Swedes have chosen to highlight agriculture and climate change at the informal agricultural council meeting next week. The discussion will be built around three questions:

1. Climate change is of great concern for the future competitiveness of EU agriculture and this challenge is being dealt with at all levels. While the framework is set at EU level, implementation will need to be carried out at farm level.

What should be the role of the EU regarding mitigation and adaptation in agriculture, and, in particular, what should be the key areas of cooperation?

2. An instrument in handling climate change in the agricultural sector is rural development programmes.

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Is EU agriculture carbon-efficient?

A relatively new argument being used to justify support for agricultural production in the EU is that reductions in EU food production would be made up by increases elsewhere where less efficient production systems exist and thus would result in a heavier carbon footprint. This raises the question whether this statement is factually correct and what do we know about the relative carbon efficiency of production systems in different parts of the world?

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New EP Ag committee line up

With co-decision on agricultural issues likely to come into force from next year, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has assumed a new importance and there was plenty of competition for places. However, one unasnwered question is whether the Budget Committee will have a stronger influence on plenary voting patterns than the Ag committee.

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