Public supports 'consumer agenda' in farm policy

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 farmers against unpredictable market conditions and preserving small family farms.… Read the rest

So how green is the Health check “green paper”?

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 to outline a long-term sustainable vision for European farming and land management. Instead, the Communication seems bent on a business as usual scenario. … Read the rest

The health check paper: Homeopathy rather than surgery?

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 is the lack of courage in confronting the CAP’s failings.… Read the rest

The environmental impact of ending set aside

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 over a million members, largely urban gardeners whose bird identification skills are sketchy, is a very influential conservationist group in the UK. Defra policy is strongly influenced by the RSPB which has framed the agenda in terms of, for example, using farmland bird populations as an indicator of environmental stress, although they may not the best measure.… Read the rest

EU farmers need to save water

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 wasted in the EU.… Read the rest

69 Ways to Reform the CAP

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, and allows a Member State to skim off up to ten per cent of the monies to be directed at one sector and provide an additional payment that is targeted at the ‘protection or enhancement of the environment’, or for ‘improving the quality and marketing of agricultural products’.… Read the rest