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, and produce less than 2% of Europe’s output. Most is not spent in the poorer parts of Europe where it is needed. Most goes to the biggest farming companies and landowners, not small farmers.”

Times change, Prime Ministers come and go, and Hilary Benn is now Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.… Read the rest

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 who combined strategic vision with a wily use of tactics and an understanding of which political buttons to push when. Now the former farm supremo has provided a rare interview to Agra Focus. One of the intresting points he makes that two much is made of the difference between the two pillars: ‘They are man-made and we should not make an icon of these structures.’… Read the rest

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 at that time: the impending conflict with Egypt over the Suez Canal, the development of the British atom bomb, balancing Britain’s relationships with its European neighbours and the United States of America, immigration and race relations, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the devaluation of the pound and, somewhat incongruously… a decision on whether to reduce the meat ration.… Read the rest

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 open up a much more fundamental debate on the rationale for European expenditure on agriculture, and in doing so will delve into the very heart of the CAP. … Read the rest

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. Secondo Tarditi lost the fight against his sudden illness. He passed away in Rome on June 14, 2007. Secondo had an outstanding career. … Read the rest

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. Read article-by-article here, or download the entire magazine as a handy PDF file: Food Ethics – CAP Reform issue. The Food Ethics Council is a UK-registered charity that challenges government, business and society to make wise choices that lead to better food and farming.… Read the rest