First Lisbon Treaty ‘Euro-petition’ takes aim at livestock subsidies

The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified and among it’s political innovations is a “citizens’ petitions” tool. Article 8B says that

“Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties.”

Read the rest

First Lisbon Treaty 'Euro-petition' takes aim at livestock subsidies

The Lisbon Treaty has been ratified and among it’s political innovations is a “citizens’ petitions” tool. Article 8B says that

“Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties.”

Read the rest

Food safety – the Irish pork dioxin crisis revisited

An Irish Parliamentary Committee has just published the results of its investigation into the pork dioxin crisis in Ireland last December, which led to the slaughter of pigs on a number of farms which had been fed contaminated feed and the recall of all Irish pork products produced since 1 September from the home and export markets. In an earlier post, I provided some background to the crisis. I argued that the contamination incident raised three questions: how was it that the praised EU hygiene controls broke down in this instance? What will be the overall cost to the sector and to the economy of the dioxin contamination and the product recall? … Read the rest

The methane menace and hamburgers

A paper on the contribution to climate change of livestock methane emissions has found that the problem is likely to get worse as global demand for meat and dairy products increases. Dr Andy Thorpe, an economist at Portsmouth University, found that a single herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car 180,000 km.… Read the rest

The CAP and Europe’s subsistence farmers

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 of €250 per annum. This could make life even harder for some of Europe’s poorest farmers and shepherds who barely get a look-in when it comes to Brussels handouts. … Read the rest

The CAP and Europe's subsistence farmers

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 of €250 per annum. This could make life even harder for some of Europe’s poorest farmers and shepherds who barely get a look-in when it comes to Brussels handouts. … Read the rest

CAP killer?

We’re used to the arguments that the CAP’s subsidies and tariffs are very bad for many desperately poor farmers in the developing world, with some going as far as to say that the EU has blood on its hands but now comes a piece of medical research which suggests that EU farm subsidies are responsible for more than ten thousand diet-related deaths among European citizens. … Read the rest

Animal welfare dilemmas

One of the advances made when Franz Fischler was farm commissioner was to recognise farm animals as sentient beings rather than agricultural products. This provided a basis for treating animal welfare as one of the planks of multifunctionality. However, a vet who is an animal welfare expert suggested in a talk (under Chatham House rules) that I attended that this could face a challenge under WTO rules at some point in the future.… Read the rest

GM feed ban crisis

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 in price while irrigation is a less environmentally friendly option in a time of climate change.… Read the rest

Irish farmers backtrack on Lisbon vote

Having previously run a highly visible campaign threatening to derail the imminent referendum on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty on account of the EU’s negotiating position in the WTO, the Irish Farmers Association has fallen back into line with it’s longstanding position of support for Irish membership of the EU. As previously noted, Ireland does spectacularly well out of the CAP, and it looks as though the IFA has extracted a promise from the new Irish prime minister Brian Cowen that he was prepared to veto any WTO deal that was bad for Ireland. … Read the rest