On October 20th next I will take part in a workshop organised by DG AGRI at the Milan EXPO on the subject “Structural realities in EU agriculture: Does farm size matter?” The aim of the workshop is to discuss the challenges and opportunities brought about by the structural change of the EU agricultural sector for [...]
Environmental assessment of new Irish agri-food expansion strategy side-steps the vital questions.
New IEEP study shows the inappropriateness of mandating fixed and uniform management actions across the whole of the EU to achieve environmental goals. Existing entry-level agri-environment schemes in member states involve very diverse management practices which are often revised in the light of experience.
New study of agri-environment schemes shows that it is worth going for more individualised, complex schemes in spite of the much higher administrative costs implied by this approach.
The Commission estimates that the gross cost of the green measures in Pillar 1 will be at least €5 billion, although the cost to farmers will be lower because reduced market supply will help to raise product prices. Is this the best way of spending €5 billion to maximise the value of the additional environmental benefits produced by farmers?
The second in a series of in-depth conversations with leading figures in the debate on the future of the CAP.
It’s time for a radical reorientation of the CAP towards environmentally-friendly farming
The German Council for Sustainable Development has issued a new call for reform of the CAP direct payments system, citing the damage done to the environment by intensive agriculture.
BirdLife International has made a mistake in getting into bed with the European Landowners Organisation
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Anyone who has followed the CAP debate this past few years will have observed how the term ‘public good’ has been adopted by almost everyone seeking to advance their own vision of the CAP, from the dinosaurs of COPA-COGECA, to the more moderate National Farmers Union to the José Bové’s Via Campesina, organic farmers like [...]
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.
Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money intended for environmental projects is instead being used to prop up damaging farmning practices across Europe, according to a report Could Do Better compiled for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds by Birdlife International. The report highlights some of the positive work being done in EU member [...]
The influential Land Use Policy Group will be launching their vision for the future of the CAP after 2013 in Brussels on March 30th. This will be an important event in the long-term effort to clarify thinking about future policy so that it delivers benefits to the environment and rural communities.
I’m told that the Finnish and Swedish governments (backed by the French EU Presidency) are working right now to insert a loophole to new EU biofuels sustainability standards that would allow the destruction of the world’s peat lands, with appaling consequences for increasing global greenhouse gas emissions. Chapter and verse from BirdLife International after the [...]
It’s no wonder that the Commission suppressed the Court of Auditors report on cross compliance for as long as it could – the report is damning and undermines the Commission’s case for the legitimacy of EU farm subsidies. Speaking in 2005, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel explained how she sees cross compliance in relation nearly [...]
As Wyn Grant has observed, the Court of Auditors annual report on the 2007 EU budget published on Monday identified a clutch of weaknesses associated with the controls on spending on EU farm policies. The Court observes that “Some 20 percent of payments audited at final beneficiary level and revealed incorrect payments, a limited number [...]
Agra Focus has been conducting a series of interviews on EU farm policy and one of the longest and most interesting to date is with Allan Buckwell. He is currently policy director with the (England and Wales) Country and Land Business Association, but is also chair of the policy committee run by the European Landowners [...]
When the Commission unveiled its proposals for the health check back in November 2007, the DG Agri spin machine highlighted the proposals to introduce upper limits on the subsidies that are paid to Europe’s largest, wealthiest and most competitive farmers. What got much less attention was the plan to introduce lower limits, at a level [...]
Several bloggers have noted the amazing disappearing biofuels poll (an online poll about EU biofuels policy that suddenly vanished from the website of the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso without any explanation). Following repeated enquries to the Commission President’s press office that were completely ignored, a more formal approach under the EU access to [...]
The current high prices for arable crops mean that farmers in the US and Europe are reconsidering whether putting their land into government-financed conservation schemes is such a good idea financially. The EU is well on the way to releasing all its set aside land back into production, and in the US Congress is considering [...]
Three new reports published this week have called on the EU to drop or severley scale back its biofuels targets. These latest interventiosn by the European Parliament Environment Committee, a study group commissioned by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a leading Brussels-based think tank show that the tide has now firmly turned against the [...]
In order to animate a transparent debate on the purpose, intensity and spatial distribution of CAP expenditure, a number of maps overlaying CAP expenditure data and high nature value farmland have been produced as part of a study recently completed by IEEP for the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
The vast majority of expenditure under the CAP continues to be directed to income support and is not explicitly targeted at responding to biodiversity, or other pressing environmental objectives. According to a new IEEP study for the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) the distribution and allocation of CAP funding, and the uses [...]
A row over the banning of GM feed by British supermarkets raises wider issues about how far new technology can be used to solve problems of world food shortage. There have been calls for a second ‘green revolution’, but the first green revolution was based on intensive use of fertilisers and irrigation. Fertilisers are rocketing [...]
The Less Favoured Areas directive is one of the few examples of British influence on the design of the CAP. It was originally conceived as the Mountain Areas Directive with France pressing for a definition that would have excluded Britain’s hills and uplands. But the British emphasis on latitude rather than altitude won the day [...]
We all know that the legislators who write US farm policy are not the brightest bulbs in the box. Even so, Senator Chuck Grassley treated us to an unusual insight into his own very special, mixed-up world during a telephone press briefing last week, reported in the Des Moines Register. Asked about the contribution of [...]
Two new studies published in Science magazine add to the mounting evidence that most biofuels are actually increasing carbon emissions, rather than reducing them. The current boom in biofuels in the EU and US is entirely driven by government policies and subsidies, which are invariably presented as a way of addressing climate change by reducing [...]
As Jack Thurston has well exposed in his recent entry, the “food security” argument seems to be the new rally call for those trying to justify continuation of untargetted payments to farmers, or even a return to production support (albeit disguised as “risk management”, “income insurance” and the like). At a recent debate I was [...]
A new report commissioned by the Budget Committee of the European Parliament makes interesting reading. The report, written by Jorge Núñez Ferrer (a former Commission fonctionnaire) and Eleni A. Kaditi, both of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, aims to asses whether the CAP provides ‘added value’. Núñez Ferrer and Kaditi define this [...]
The European Parliament is seeking an outcome to the CAP Health Check that does not compromise the competitiveness of EU farming or diminish the value of farm subsidy receipts. This is the vision presented in a working document drafted by German MEP Lutz Goepel of the Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. The paper [...]
The objectives of the present incarnation of the CAP are the subject of intense debate in policy circles. Cross compliance is seen by some as a way to justify the Single Payment Scheme, by aligning the receipt of largely untargeted subsidy payments to the delivery of public goods. To some extent this is true. Farmers [...]
A new survey of public opinion released today by the German Marshall Fund of the United States shows strong support for ‘consumer agenda’ in EU and US agriculture policies focused on food safety, the environment and the food supply. There was significantly less support for producer-oriented priorities like providing emergency financial relief to farmers, insuring [...]
The Commission’s “CAP Health Check” communication acknowledges the fact that European Farming and countryside face unprecedented environmental challenges: continuous biodiversity decline, increasing climate change and a looming water crisis. The Communication fails however to come up with credible proposals for dealing with these challenges. It was hoped that the Commission would use the Health Check [...]
The recently leaked Commission Green paper sets the scene for the upcoming health check. What emerges at the moment is a very cautious and minimalist approach, in line with what the Commissioner has been promising for a while. Two things seem striking. The first is the choice to ignore the budget review debate. The second [...]
Idling land resources through set aside never made a lot of economic sense and was largely a way of dealing with over production encouraged by the old style CAP. However, many environmentalists felt that set aside encouraged biodiversity. This was particularly the case for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) which with [...]
Analyses of the contents of the Commission’s Health Check Communication have heightened in recent days with the content of the leaked draft document reported in the agriculture press. Of particular interest from an environmental perspective, is the resurgence of the little applied Article 69. This article is housed within the current CAP legislation, Regulation 1782/2003, [...]
European agriculture should face the same ‘user pays’ principle as other EU consumers of water in the coming year in order to address the growing problem of water scarcity, according to a Commission Communication. The report by the Environment DG recognises that at least 20 per cent and maybe 40 per cent of water is [...]