Inside the echo-chamber

Today and tomorrow, DG Agriculture is organising a tightly controlled, invitation-only ‘public conference’ on the future of the CAP. As someone who has previously expressed mildly dissenting opinions I’ve not been invited. It’s probably a small mercy as life is really too short to spend two days listening to an assorted crowd of farm union officials, docile civil servants and tame academics parrot the DG Agriculture mantra: ‘we need to preserve the current CAP and its budget to… protect the environment / avert mass starvation / keep farmers from committing suicide (delete as appropriate)’.

There are a few people on the speakers list who might be expected to take issue with DG Agriculture’s infamous doublethink but in a crafty move they have mostly been appointed as session chairs or rapporteurs. I’m thinking here of David Baldock, Jo Swinnen, Alan Matthews and Carlo Petrini. This quartet certainly have some good ideas on where the CAP has gone wrong and how to put it right. It’s a shame they won’t have the opportunity to present them. BirdLife’s redoubtable Ariel Brunner is there, of course, but even his powerful critique will be difficult to be heard above the massed ranks of true believers DG Agriculture has assembled.

Anyway, if you are at the conference, I’d love to hear how it’s going. Honestly.

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2 Responses to “Inside the echo-chamber”

  1. Adelina
    July 20, 2010 at 07:58 #

    Hi, unfortunately I am not at the conference but I am following it live on the dedicated website. We have produced an article on yesterday’s event but it is still not translated into English. Anyway, an interesting presentation made a Dutch farmer who called for special focus on young farmers because in 10 years almost half of EU farmers will retire. Yes, Mr Brunner, you also mentionl, was critical in terms of environment, saying that wrong statistics is being used to define reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, contributed by agriculture.

    However, I would like to ask you too some questions. You say that you have not been invited to take part in the conference. Did this prevent you from being a visitor for example? And why do you think you have not been invited?

  2. Jorge Nunez Ferrer
    July 30, 2010 at 13:26 #

    I was also not invited, which is curious given that I wrote various reports for the European Parliament related to the CAP… or maybe it was just because of that. The agricultural policy discourse today is lacking so much rationale that somehow I am pleased of having avoided the “public conference”.

    @Adelina: several well known agricultural economists were not invited, some are very active and well-known in the field… only not very much in line with the position of the Commission. It may all be a misunderstanding of course.