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 (some €34 billion a year) and the abolition of EU tariffs on agricultural imports. He also signals the growing concern in the UK about the EU’s headlong rush into food-for-fuel policies that are widely seen as contributing to the rapidly rising costs of food in Europe and elsewhere.… Read the rest

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 (some €34 billion a year) and the abolition of EU tariffs on agricultural imports. He also signals the growing concern in the UK about the EU’s headlong rush into food-for-fuel policies that are widely seen as contributing to the rapidly rising costs of food in Europe and elsewhere.… Read the rest

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 in America to break the vicious cycle of junk food, chronic diet-related diseases and food ignorance. Many of his ideas draw on the notion of ‘food culture’, something that he argues that Americans have lost, and we Europeans (well, maybe not us Brits), still have.… Read the rest

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 organised around six questions, divided into two groups. Find out more after the jump…… Read the rest

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 organised around six questions, divided into two groups. Find out more after the jump…… Read the rest

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 the US Government’s massive food-to-fuel subsidies to rising world food prices and the resulting hunger, poverty and social unrest, Grassley denied there was any connection and suggested the responsibility lay with people in China eating too much meat.… Read the rest

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 and the publication itself is essential reading for those with a serious interest in agriculture and food policy. Below a few of his key themes are picked out.… Read the rest

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 Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, Mandelson said:

“We’ve got to develop our biofuels policy intelligently… I think we need to carefully reflect on the approach that we’re taking.”

Read the rest

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 Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, Mandelson said:

“We’ve got to develop our biofuels policy intelligently… I think we need to carefully reflect on the approach that we’re taking.”

Read the rest