Overall inflation in the EU shows some tentative signs of moderating in the latest figures for the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) from Eurostat for February 2023. From a peak annual rate of inflation of 11.5% in October 2022, the annual rate fell to 9.9% in February 2023. This is entirely due to a fall in energy costs which also reached their peak in October 2022. Food price inflation, however, continues unabated and increased further in February 2023 to an unheard-of annual rate in recent decades of 19.1%. Unfortunately, this high rate of food price inflation looks set to continue for a further period.… Read the rest
The changing distribution of CAP direct payments over time
The distribution of CAP direct payments among farmers has been a continuing source of controversy ever since the Commission’s 1991 Reflections Paper on the development and future of the CAP that prefigured the MacSharry reform noted that 80% of the support provided by FEOGA is devoted to 20% of farms which account also for the greater part of land used in agriculture. In successive CAP reform proposals the Commission has proposed measures that would allocate CAP support more evenly across farms, including in its 2018 legislative proposal for the CAP 2021-2027. On each occasion, the Council has pushed back and weakened the Commission proposal, as also happened with the outcome for the CAP post 2023 (the debate on redistribution in the 2018 reform is reviewed in this report for the European Parliament, chapter 5).… Read the rest
Conversation with a chatbot on the Common Agricultural Policy
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been described as the fourth industrial revolution, following the invention of the steam engine, electric power, and the internet. AI tools can rapidly synthesize large amounts of data and detect patterns. AI tools are increasingly used in business but also in the provision of public services in activities such as risk profiling, the delivery of medical care, and traffic management.
There is growing interest in the interface between AI and public policy. This is a relationship that works both ways. On the one hand, there are concerns about how best to regulate the use of AI in society.… Read the rest
2022: a record year for farm income
2022 was a challenging year for farming in the EU. Buffeted by weather extremes, disease outbreaks and rising input costs due partly to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions but particularly following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, there was a sharp drop in agricultural production. Yet despite the predictions of doom and gloom, 2022 was a record year for EU farm income.
We had effectively the converse situation to the farmer in Shakespeare’s Macbeth who ‘hanged himself on the expectation of plenty’. Shakespeare’s farmer had hoarded grain in order to sell it later, when prices went up. But when prices went down instead due to a good harvest, he goes bankrupt and hangs himself in despair.… Read the rest
Regulating the most polluting livestock farms is justified
This post was first published in Acid News No. 4, December 2022 and is reproduced here with permission.
In April 2022 the Commission proposed to amend the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) to increase its effectiveness in reducing emissions of industrial pollutants that are harmful to human health and the environment.
The Directive seeks to ensure that installations operate using Best Available Practices. Installations covered by the IED are required to operate in accordance with a permit which sets conditions in line with the principles of the IED.
Around 52,000 installations are currently covered by the IED, of which 23,000 are large pig and poultry farms.… Read the rest
Tracking structural change in EU agriculture
Let me welcome you to the first blog post on capreform.eu since I last posted in July. The long absence was due to two reasons. First, the blog was hacked which prevented me from accessing the back end where I construct the posts. And second, a series of commitments over the summer and autumn meant that I did not have the time (or skills) to work out how to regain access to the blog. Fortunately, the blog posts themselves remained available for those who wanted to read them.
I have now found a way around the block. The site will need a bit more work to fully stabilise it and secure it against future hacking attempts but at least I am able to post again.… Read the rest
EU throws hand grenade into global agri-food trade
On 6 July 2022 the EU circulated to WTO Members its proposed revisions to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for two neonicotinoid insecticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam (the documents include the formal notification to the TBT Committee, the proposed draft Commission Regulation, and a comparison of existing and proposed MRLs by agricultural product).
Under WTO rules, this is a necessary step when changes in MRLs are proposed. Other Members now have 60 days in which to provide comments on the proposed changes. These comments are then considered by the Standing Committee on Plant, Animal, Food and Feed, the EU body consisting of Member State representatives that decides on pesticide issues, before final approval is given to the proposed Regulation.… Read the rest
Taking developing country interests into account when designing Green Deal trade policies
Today I gave a presentation on the implications of the European Green Deal for agri-food trade with developing countries to a webinar organized by the European Landowners’ Organisation (ELO) (the presentation can be downloaded here and you can also listen to the presentation itself as well as the webinar as a whole at the following link). The presentation was based on a paper I am preparing on this topic commissioned by the ELO and the issues raised at the webinar will feed into the final version of the paper.
The urgent need to address the challenges that face our food system, to provide healthy and adequate nutrition for all and ensure decent livelihoods while remaining within planetary boundaries, is not in question.… Read the rest
Antibiotic legislation as a mirror clause
The first priority of the French EU Presidency in the first half of 2022 under the ‘Agriculture and forestry’ heading is to ‘encourage Council discussions on reciprocal environmental and health production standards for European products and products imported from third countries with the aim of subjecting imported products to certain production requirements applied in the European Union where necessary, to strengthen the protection of health or the environment on the largest possible scale, in keeping with World Trade Organization rules (“mirror clauses”)’.
One of the issues on the French Presidency agenda will be the completion of the outstanding legislation necessary to fully implement the Veterinary Medicinal Products (VMP) Regulation (EU) 2019/6.… Read the rest
Price formation in the market for organic products
The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM, the competition authority) has recently published the second of a series of reports intended to examine if there are market failures that would hinder the development towards sustainable agriculture. Both the 2020 Agro-Nutri Monitor and the 2021 Agro-Nutri Monitor contain an English language summary on which this post is based. The reports are based on research undertaken by Wageningen Economic Research on behalf of ACM.
The reports focus on the markets for organic products, while recognising that there are other sustainability labels in the Dutch retail sector. Given the ambition in the Farm to Fork Strategy to increase the area under organic agriculture to 25%, the question asked by the ACM is of wider European interest.… Read the rest