Tag Archives: people

Ciolos hearing at the House of Commons

On 13 January, Dacian Ciolos gave testimony to the UK Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee on CAP reform.

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Voters punish Sarkozy, Le Maire stays on

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

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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.

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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 [...]

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Scotland ‘on message’ on farm subsidies

Scotland is far more in tune with current thinking on farm subsidies in mainland Europe than England and Wales, claims Scotland’s rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead. Addressing farmers at a Christmas Carcass competition in Inverurie, Mr Lochhead brought them glad tidings about the deep divide in agriculture policies on the two sides of the border. [...]

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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 [...]

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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 [...]

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Who will be next agriculture commissioner?

The next agricultural commissioner will have the chance to shape the future development of the CAP. So who will it be?

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Barroso CAP Vision: Motherhood & apple pie

Just as it’s hard to love Commission President José Manuel Barroso, it’s hard to loathe him. Maybe that’s why he’s the ultimate compromise candidate and has just secured a second five year term of office. President Barroso has just published political guidelines for the next Commission, setting out his stall for a ’2020 vision’ of [...]

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New EP Ag committee line up

With co-decision on agricultural issues likely to come into force from next year, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has assumed a new importance and there was plenty of competition for places. However, one unasnwered question is whether the Budget Committee will have a stronger influence on plenary voting patterns than the Ag committee.

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Big Phil Lays It On The Line

Vaasa, Finland: Philip Lowe is a leading figure in the rural studies community in the UK and he issues a stark warning about the so-called ‘new productivism’ in an interview that was issued to delegates at the ESRS Congress where he gave the opening plenary.

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Buckwell: blanket subsidies to continue after 2020

Pillar 1 subsidies are likely to continue after 2020, forecast Professor Allan Buckwell, the Policy Director of the Country Land and Business Association, in an interesting talk at the President’s Seminar of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) in London yesterday.

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A chorus of despair

Earlier this week I was invited to take part in a round table discussion, as part of a major conference on the future of the CAP, organised by Birdlife/SEO and WWF. The conference began with a joint presentation by SEO and WWF of an interesting new proposal for CAP reform in Spain. The proposal envisages [...]

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Fischer Boel golden goodbye: “Because I’m worth it”

The anti-EU agitprop outfit Open Europe has been huffing and puffing over the golden goodbyes that await those European Commissioners who will be put out to pasture when the current Commission’s five year mandate comes to an end later this year. Among their number is thought to be our own Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel [...]

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Why CAP reform happened

The latest Journal of Common Market Studies (vol.47, 2, March 2009) contains an important article exploring the determinants of CAP reform. It is written by Alan Swinbank, a distinguished agricultural economist and a leading proponent of reform and Arlindo Cunha who was chair of the Agriculture Council in 1992 at the time of the MacSharry [...]

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Vision for the future of the CAP

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.

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Tenant farmer tells it like it is

I have a lot of sympathy with tenant farmers. It is sometimes said that farmers are asset rich but income poor, by which it is meant that they own a lot of extremely valuable land but don’t make a whole lot of profit from working it. In the case of tenant farmers, who have to [...]

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The Estonian vision

A charming young Estonian woman greeted me at the European Parliament yesterday when I went to give evidence to the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee (of which more in due course). Of broader significance Estonia is probably the only new member state with a clear concept of how the CAP should evolve. This is outlined [...]

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Tangermann’s parting shot

Later today Stefan Tangermann will step down as Director of the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate, a post he has held since 2002. The OECD has a strict ‘retire-at-65′ rule and it may surprise some to learn that the tall and spritely German, invariably sporting one of his trademark bow-ties, has reached such an age. [...]

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Podcast: Paulo Casaca MEP on the chaos of Parliament’s farm policy

In the second of today’s podcasts from the European Parliament, Paulo Casaca MEP gives his immediate reaction to a series of votes on the CAP health check that saw many MEPs break ranks from agreed party lines, evidence of the passions that are aroused when the Parliament debates food and farming. He argues that the [...]

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Podcast: Neil Parish MEP on today’s health check vote

The European Parliament today votes on the CAP health check. I spoke with Neil Parish MEP (pictured right), who represents the largely rural constituency of South West England and is a farmer himself. He also chairs the Parliament’s agriculture committee, which drafted the report that is being voted on today. Perhaps unusually for a committee [...]

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Fischer Boel in the European Parliament

Mariann Fischer Boel attended the plenary debate on the CAP health check in the European Parliament earlier today. There is little to report from the debate – most of the contributions were bland and reflected the general desire of the European Parliament to water down the Commission’s reform proposals. Neil Parish MEP called for the [...]

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Commissioner Grybauskaité: no future for direct payments

A major conference entitled “Reforming the Budget, Changing Europe” was held yesterday in Brussels, marking the end of the consultation phase of the ‘no taboos’ review of the future of the EU budget led by Budget Commissioner Dalia Grybauskaité. The former Lithuanian finance minister presented the results of the consultation process that received more than [...]

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Buckwell expresses doubts about SFP and pillars

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 [...]

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The great targeting debate

Czech agriculture minister Petr Gandalovic made an curious statement at the informal Agriculture Council meeting held earlier this week in the French Alps. Mr Gandalovic, who will assume the chairmanship of the Council under the Czech EU Presidency in the first half of 2009, told his colleagues: “The more specific you make the policy, the [...]

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mcdonalds

McDonald’s, Lidl and big biotech at the Copa-Cogeca annual congress

Time is running out to book your place at the annual Congress of European Farmers, organised by COPA-COGECA, the umbrella organization that attempts to represent European farm unions in Brussels. The two-day meet-up, entitled “Visions for the future of agricultural policy in Europe” takes place on 30 September and 1 October. Having perused the programme, [...]

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Should the E.U. stick to its target to reach 10% biofuels by 2020?

Barroso’s poll results – 87% say ditch biofuels target

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 [...]

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Bureaucracy, greed and vanity threaten EU plan to help world’s poorest farmers

The European Commission has published its plans to divert up to a billion euros from CAP underspends to a new fund to help farmers in the developing world to increase productivity in the face of the world food crisis. Higher food prices have meant lower CAP expenditure on market measures such as intervention, storage and [...]

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French press for EU summit on CAP

French farm leaders have asked President Sarkozy to organise a Special Summit of EU heads of government on ‘EU ambitions for the agriculture and agri-food sectors.’ Perhaps the word ‘EU’ should be replaced by ‘French’.

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Barroso’s disappearing biofuels poll

For the past couple of weeks José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, has been running an online poll on his website, asking visitors to express their opinions on EU’s biofuels policy. At the last count, some 89 per cent of the 60,000 respondents had voted for the EU to drop its biofuels targets, [...]

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Danish Minister sets out her vision for the CAP

A recent interview with the Danish agriculture minister Eva Kjer Hansen, originally broadcast on Euronews. Denmark has traditionally been on the reform side of the arguments about the future of the CAP with a a free market approach but emphasising the importance of environmental conservation.

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Darling’s daring bid for reform

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (aka Finance Minister) Alistair Darling wrote earlier this week to all his counterparts on the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) ahead of today’s meeting, setting out the case for a radical reform of the EU’s agriculture and trade policies. Specifically, he calls for the abolition of direct aids [...]

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Michael Pollan on the importance of culture in food

American journalist Michael Pollan has written some great books about food and farming, most notably the Omnivore’s Dilemma, which cast a critical eye at so-called Big Organic: the industrial mono-culture organic farmers and growers and big organic chain stores like Whole Foods Market. His new book In Defense of Food offers a manifesto for eating [...]

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France asks “Who will feed the world?”

The French government has launched a new website as part of the run-up to a conference it will hold on 3 July, at the very beginning of France’s 6-month EU Presidency, to discuss the future of European and global agriculture. Entitled “Qui va nourrir le monde?” (Who will feed the world), the debate is being [...]

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The mixed up world of US Senator Chuck Grassley

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 [...]

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Stefan speaks out

Before he joined OECD, I would run into agricultural economist Stefan Tangermann from time to time at conferences. I was always impressed by his contributions so it is interesting to read his interview with Agra Focus, one of the latest in an excellent series. In a long interview, he had many interesting points to make [...]

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Mandelson: EU should ‘carefully reflect’ on its biofuels policy

With growing consensus that US and EU biofuel subsidies are among the principal contributors to recent global food price rises, termed a ‘silent tsunami’ by The Economist, EU Trade Commissioner today signaled that Europe needs to reconsider its target of achieving a 10 per cent biofuels mix in transport fuel by 2020. Speaking on BBC [...]

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Well fancy that…

What a difference a change of ministerial portfolio makes! Back in 2006, Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for International Development, was strident in his criticisms of the CAP: “Through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), two fifths of the EU budget goes on subsidies and support to Europe’s farmers who represent 5% of Europe’s population, [...]

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Fischler speaks out

I have recently been working with others on an edited collection to be brought out from the Centre for Policy Studies in Brussels which re-visits the Fischler reforms of the CAP. The discussions held in relation to the book, which involved some people who knew Fischler’s work well, confirmed my view that he was someone [...]

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Sarko: “La France est de retour en Europe”

Showing soon at a screen near you….

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Churchill, Malthus, Brown, Barnier and agricultural protectionism

Earlier this week, BBC Radio 4 broadcast Churchill Confidential, a dramatisation of British cabinet meetings chaired by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, records of which have only recently been released into the public domain. In this week’s episode, looking at Churchill’s second term of office (1951-55), we get an overview of the pressing issues of state [...]

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Forging the link between the Health Check and the Budget Review

The CAP Health Check has been promoted by the Commission as an exercise focused on tidying up the loose ends of the 2003 Mid Term Review and adapting the CAP to an evolving set of circumstances for the period 2008 – 2013. However, this is only half the equation. The Budget Review is set to [...]

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Remembering Secondo Tarditi

Readers of CAP Health Check will recall the death earlier this year of Secondo Tarditi, who was one of its founding members. Ulrich Koester of the University of Kiel in Germany, and a close friend and colleague of Secondo, has written an appreciation: The international community of agricultural economists has lost a highly respected colleague. [...]

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Sarko to scrap the CAP?

Hyperactive French President Nicolas Sarkozy this week made a fundamental break with his predecessors, endorsing ‘radical reform’ of Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, according to a report by Agence France Presse.

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Handy primer on CAP reform debate

The new issue of Food Ethics magazine is devoted to a discussion of CAP reform and the 2008 CAP Health Check. Alongside articles by CAP Health Check blogger Wyn Grant and me, you’ll find some useful analysis by many of the movers and shakers in the CAP debate, both in Brussels, the UK and elsewhere. [...]

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Fischer Boel sets course for CAP Health Check

Speaking at a meeting of the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee in Nicosia, Cyprus on 29 June, Agriculture Commissioner laid out her current thinking on the future of the CAP, in particular the changes she will be proposing later this year for the CAP Health Check.

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UK Conservatives endorse the CAP

John Gummer MP, the former UK Agriculture Minister who is currently advising Conservative Party leader David Cameron on farm policy, has taken a swipe those in his party who call for a repatriation of the EU’s common agricultural policy: “There is no doubt at all that unless we get a kind of common deal in [...]

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Musical chairs at the French Ministry for Agriculture

The surprise parliamentary election defeat last Sunday of Alain Juppé, a leading member of newly-appointed French cabinet has forced President Nicolas Sarkozy into an unplanned cabinet reshuffle. Newly appointed Agriculture Minister Christine Lagarde has been promoted to the post of Finance Minister. The resulting gap at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing has been filled [...]

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Sarko’s hard line could have a paradoxical end

The hard line being taken by France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, on the future of the CAP could have a paradoxical outcome: further re-nationalisation of the policy once seen as the cornerstone of the European Union.

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New French farm minister: a ray of hope for reform?

After Nicholas Sarkozy appeared to indicate that it was ‘business as usual’ in French agricultural policy, the appointment of Christine Lagarde as farm minister gives a ray of hope. Named as the 30th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2006, she was formerly trade minister.

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