CAP Reform Conversations: Ariel Brunner, BirdLife International

In the second in a series of in-depth conversations with leading figures in the debate on the future of the European Union’s common agricultural policy, Jack Thurston speaks with Ariel Brunner, Head of EU Policy at BirdLife International.

BirdLife International is “a global partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. BirdLife Partners operate in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide.”

Anyone who has been in and around Brussels policy circles over the past few years will know that Ariel Brunner is among the most knowledgeable and persuasive advocates for radical reform of the CAP.… Read the rest

CAP Reform Conversations: Paolo De Castro MEP

In the first of a series of video conversations with leading figures in the debate over the future of the CAP, Jack Thurston talks to Paolo De Castro MEP, chair of the parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and a former two-term Italian agriculture minister and professor of agricultural economics.

De Castro explains that he has always regarded himself as a CAP reformer and sets out his vision for a reshaping of the EU’s farm subsidy system. He advocates a shift to a basic flat rate aid payment to farmers, plus additional funds to be allocated at the discretion of member states.… Read the rest

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 kind of farming – and food – might we be expected to see in a post-peak oil world. The answer? Permaculture and more nuts.

The film is available on Youtube in five parts.

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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. Professor Tangermann has been a colossus among European agriculture policy analysts for at least two decades. Before taking the job at the OECD he was professor of agricultural economics at the University of Göttingen, having been appointed to that position in 1980.… Read the rest

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. Professor Tangermann has been a colossus among European agriculture policy analysts for at least two decades. Before taking the job at the OECD he was professor of agricultural economics at the University of Göttingen, having been appointed to that position in 1980.… Read the rest

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 pace of reform to continue but it was Brian Simpson MEP who made the most powerful dissenting speech, ripping into the Parliament’s draft report, written by Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos MEP. Mr Simpson concluded that

“Your position, Commissioner, on compulsory modulation, is right. Your position on decoupling is right.

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Mapping the CAP 1: Google maps v farmsubsidy.org

Over at farmsubsidy.org you can see the first fruits of a mapping project which aims to place every EU farm subsidy payment on a fully interactive web-based map, powered by the excellent Google Maps. The first country to get the mapping treatment is Sweden, chosen because its government has been by far the most transparent in terms of farm subsidy payments. The map displays some € 7 billion in CAP expenditure in 2 million payments to 114,700 recipients since 2000. We think the map-based interface is a fascinating new platform for bringing the CAP closer to the citizens that pay for it.… Read the rest