Jack Thurston

Writer and activist
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Jack is a freelance writer, broadcaster and activist based in London. He is a co-founder of farmsubsidy.org, the campaign for transparency in the EU's common agricultural policy and has served as a special adviser to the UK minister for agriculture and as a transatlantic fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He has degrees in PPE from Oxford University and in public policy analysis from the University of California at Berkeley.

Recent blog posts written by Jack Thurston

Paolo De Castro on the CAP Reform Process

Rose O’Donovan, editor of the excellent Agra-Facts, has interviewed Paolo De Castro, CAP reform veteran and currently holding a key role as Chairman of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee. Worth a watch.

London Olympics opening ceremony chimes with greening vision for the CAP

The dazzling opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was a triumph of discipline, choreography, stagecraft. London will host the games later this summer and it was announced today that the 2012 opening ceremony will take an altogether different, gentler approach. The 2012 Olympics will open with a pastoral representation of the countryside comprising a [...]

Cross compliance for labour laws?

The Global Mail reports on a shocking case of alleged abuses of migrant workers in the Spanish horticulture industry, concentrated in the southern Spanish region of Almería along a 200km strip of hothouses known as el mar de plásticos. This is where much of Europe’s salad vegetable crop is grown. Allegations range from payment below [...]

EFAs v. Set-Aside

Ecological Focus Areas are new departure for the CAP that seek to boost ‘green infrastructure’

Eurobarometer on CAP reform

New poll shows public support for main thrust of the Commission’s reform plans

The genius of French farmers

Making a point to a global television audience

Haskins sets out vision for CAP reform

British peer and farmer calls for radical reform (again).

Sustainable intenstification

‘More from less’ is the new mantra in science circles. Will someone tell the European Parliament?

Heads you win, tails I lose

For some, farm subsidies are the answer to every problem

Doha round agreement would leave EU farm subsidies untouched

Decoupling means EU has plenty of headroom if a WTO agreement to cap trade-distorting farm subsidies is reached

Commission’s home truths on the CAP

An obscure consultation document reveals what the Commission really thinks about the future of the CAP

Commission blueprint for future of the CAP

Commission explains why it’s vital the EU pays its farmers but puts off big decisions for another day.

What ‘common’ agricultural policy?

New maps from DG Regio show the uneven benefits of CAP spending

French government fighting itself

French environment and agriculture ministers in public dust up over the future direction of the CAP

The Commission communication leak in full

It is traditional that the Commission leaks a near-final version of its communications on CAP reform. Here’s this year’s.

Franco-German position on future of the CAP

In the past, when France and Germany have worked together, they have been able to dictate the future of the CAP. A new policy position seeks to preserve this tradition.

Public goods in the spotlight

‘Public money for public goods’ has become a powerful slogan in the battle for the future of the CAP. But what does it mean?

Budget rumbles in Brussels

This autumn the future of the EU budget will take political centre stage in Brussels

Inside the echo-chamber

Today and tomorrow, DG Agriculture is organising a tightly controlled, invitation-only ‘public conference’ on the future of the CAP.

BirdLife takes aim at Lyon

A stinging attack on the European Parliament’s agriculture committee from one of Europe’s leading environmental NGOs

The worst case scenario examined

A new report reveals which farms would survive without CAP subsidies and which would fail

The future of direct payments

A study commissioned by the European Parliament endorses the ‘public money for public goods’ mantra.

A three pillar CAP?

Two pillars are not enough for a sustainable future for the CAP, say leading agricultural economists.

The development angle

The CAP is still hurting developing countries, say the UN and the OECD. But will European development NGOs engage in the battle over the future of the CAP?

EU boosts farm subsidy millionaires by more than 20 per cent in 2009

Farmsubsidy.org reveals who got what from the CAP in 2009

Poll Shock: Europe loves the CAP!

Eurobarometer survey gives the Commission the answers it wants.

Sarkozy and Cameron on collision course?

For the entente cordiale, the British budget rebate and the CAP are a toxic combination.

CAP Reform Conversations: Ariel Brunner, BirdLife International

The second in a series of in-depth conversations with leading figures in the debate on the future of the CAP.

Voters punish Sarkozy, Le Maire stays on

French farms minister fails in his bid to become regional president of Normandy

Crystal ball gazing: Scenar II study on the effects of CAP reform

A new economic modelling study commissioned by DG Agriculture shows that many of the core claims made for the CAP are highly misleading, or downright wrong.

New Danish farms minister in subsidy storm

Yesterday’s reshuffle of the Danish government included the appointment of a new minister for agriculture: Henrik Høegh. Less than a day into his new job, he is becoming embroiled in a political row over a perceived conflict of interest. The reason? Mr Høegh is a farmer who receives more than sixty thousand euro a year [...]

CAP Reform Conversations: Paolo De Castro MEP

Jack Thurston talks to Paolo De Castro MEP, chair of the parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Another day, another declaration

The European Food Declaration calls for a new agriculture policy based around ‘food sovereignty’.

Does the CAP fit?

The biggest driver for reform of the CAP is budgetary and the views of member states are critical, since they hold the EU’s purse strings. A new analysis of member state positions on the EU budget and the CAP shows that while there is support for reform of the EU budget there is little agreement on what reform actually means.

Le Monde debates the CAP

It’s time for a radical reorientation of the CAP towards environmentally-friendly farming

ELO and BirdLife fire the starting gun

Nothing tells you that a big political debate is hotting up like the emergence of new alliances of odd bedfellows. Yesterday saw a major joint intervention from two of Europe’s biggest, most authoritative and well-connected players in EU agriculture policy.

Roger Waite the new voice of DG Agri

Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts and frequent podcast guest on this blog, has accepted the job of spokesperson for Agriculture Commissioner-designate Dacian Ciolos.

BBC Documentary: A Farm for the Future

A Farm For the Future is a documentary that aired on the BBC last year. It explains just how oil-dependent our agriculture is: every calorie of food produced in the western world requires ten calories of fossil fuel energy. The film looks at the challenge of dwindling oil supplies and tries to find out what [...]

25 Questions for Dacian Ciolos

25 questions MEPs that should put to the man who – subject to their approval – will set the agenda for European food and farming policy over the next five years.

Fraud and the CAP

The budget monitoring website FollowTheMoney.eu is serialising a three part survey of the long history of fraud in the Common Agricultural Policy.

Welcome to capreform.eu

This group blog on European food and farming policy began in 2008 during the ‘health check’ or policy review of the CAP and could be found at the URL caphealthcheck.eu. The ‘health check’ is now well in the past and it’s time to rename this blog to keep up with the times and to introduce [...]

The job nobody wanted

Over at the excellent farmpolicy.com Roger Waite, editor of Agra Facts, has posted a thorough account of the appointment of the new EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos. He says that while Romania had sought the powerful position, it was really a case of appointment by default: I tend to feel that Barroso was left with [...]

A new decade, a new CAP

Five leading European farming and environmental NGOs, who between them boast several million members, have jointly published a blueprint for a new Common Agricultural Policy. In an unusual and very modern step, they have published a draft proposal and opened it for consultation. They will produce a final version in 2010. The proposal, which runs [...]

New book reveals extent of ‘box shifting’

When the negotiators in the Uruguay Round of the GATT introduced the concept of the ‘green box’ – farm support measures that are minimally or non-trade distorting and therefore exempt from any limits – few would have foreseen that within 15 years, the bulk of farm support in the developed world would be in the [...]

Andris Piebalgs for Agriculture Commissioner?

With the CAP among the EU’s oldest and biggest policies, it’s something of a surprise that no country has nominated an ‘agriculture specialist’ for the commission. This makes for a challenge to select an able successor to Mariann Fischer Boel, who came to the post having served as Farms Minister in Denmark as well as [...]

Agricultural economists declare war on the CAP

I’ve always found the notion of ‘agricultural economists’ a curious one. As if the normal rules of economics don’t apply to agriculture and there’s need for a special discipline of agricultural economics. In universities agricultural economists are often housed in their own special departments, separate from the regular Economics department. I wonder if this alternate [...]

Co-financing the Common Agricultural Policy

As far as the CAP is concerned, probably the most radical proposal in the leaked draft of the Commission’s forthcoming communication on the future of the EU Budget, is for the introduction of co-financing. The draft suggests that a larger responsibility for CAP spending could be assigned to member states, with direct aids ‘co-financed by [...]

First Lisbon Treaty ‘Euro-petition’ takes aim at livestock subsidies

The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified and among it’s political innovations is a “citizens’ petitions” tool. Article 8B says that “Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate [...]

Fischer Boel’s ‘last feather’ plucked

Earlier in the month I wrote that Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel was holding the line against protesting dairy farmers and a clutch of national agriculture ministers looking for more aid for their troubled farmers. It looks as though I spoke too soon. At this month’s farm council, Commissioner Fischer Boel found a further 280 [...]

Fischer Boel holds the line on milk

Regular readers of this blog will know by now that I don’t count myself among Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel’s greatest fans. I think she fudged what turned out to be a very costly reform of sugar subsidies, bears a share of the responsibility for the collapse of the Doha Round, missed a golden opportunity [...]