Europe’s future of food – articulating food security, sovereignty and sustainability

I was pleased to be invited to give a talk at the EIT Food conference on the future of food last Thursday where the organisers had given me the very ambitious title at the head of this post. I reproduce below the talk as I presented it, with one small modification. The great advantage of attending a conference of this kind is that one is alerted to new perspectives and new angles and, in the light of listening to some of the other excellent contributions to the conference, I slightly nuanced one of my conclusions below (I note the specific change at the end of this post).… Read the rest

Impact of CAP subsidies on productivity

I recently had an exchange on Twitter with Martin Crowe, an Irish dairy farmer and agri-consultant, over the apparent stagnation in Irish agricultural output over the past 20 years (follow on @xAlan_Matthews and @martincrowe). I attributed this, in part, to the role that direct payments play in Irish farm incomes. I argued that “If 70% of your income is coming as a cheque in post there is less incentive to innovate to grow the remaining 30%” (direct payments make up around 70% of Irish farm income in an average year). Martin tweeted back that the “70% gives the security and confidence to try and improve the 30%”.… Read the rest

Promoting innovation through the EIP Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability

Last week I attended a meeting of the High Level Steering Board of the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-A) representing the European Association for Agricultural Economists. The meeting was jointly organised by Dacian Ciolos, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research and Innovation.
It brought together 42 people representing member states, the farm and food sectors, NGOs, representatives from existing Joint Programming Initiatives in the food and agriculture area as well as scientific associations and the university sector. The purpose of the meeting was to provide input for drawing up the EIP Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) and the agenda was organised around four questions relating to priorities, bottlenecks, mobilising farmers and delivery mechanisms and funding.… Read the rest

More on the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-A)

One of the themes of this CAP reform is the need for a major increase in research and innovation to address the urgent social challenges of providing more food in an environment of increasing land use competition and pressures on resources and the environment. Whether the Commission’s proposals actually deliver on this objective is still an open question.

Three instruments are envisaged in the Commission’s CAP reform proposals to support this agenda:
• Continued support in the Rural Development Pillar 2 for investment in physical assets, business development, cooperation for the development of new products, processes and technologies in the agriculture and food sector as well as a revamping of farmer advisory services to broaden their scope and improve their effectiveness.… Read the rest

The future role for the European Innovation Partnership for agricultural productivity and sustainability

One of the new initiatives to be announced by the Commission when it publishes its legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013 on Wednesday 12 October next will be the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for agricultural productivity and sustainability. The Commission attaches great importance to this instrument to address lagging productivity growth in agriculture and to contribute to increased innovation.

To date, there is relatively little information on how this new instrument would work and what it will mean. The Commission is still in the process of internal reflection to define the objectives and governance of the EIP. However, some light is thrown on the Commission’s thinking in the evidence of Commissioners Ciolos and Geoghegan-Quinn to a recent UK House of Lords inquiry into Innovation in EU agriculture.… Read the rest