Consultation on CAP post 2013
Answers to the 4 questions raised by the EU Commission (summary)
1. Why do we need a common agricultural policy in Europe?
Without a common agriculture and food policy, food security in a single market would not be guaranteed, the lack of economic cohesion between regions would increase and the re-nationalization of agricultural policies would lead to serious distortions.
Food is too important to be played with on a deregulated market: we need a strong agricultural policy which regulates production and markets and which makes agricultural practices answer environmental and health challenges.
We need a CAP which is legitimate and accepted at international, social and environmental levels – that means a CAP very different from the present one.
2. What do citizens expect from agriculture?
• To ensure European food security : the priority of the CAP should be to feed the European population, not to be the world’s largest importer/exporter – a weakness considering the challenges of tomorrow. The EU can and should produce the plant proteins it needs, instead of importing 78%.
• Potatoes don’t grow in supermarkets : Europeans prefer real farms to a few “foodmakers” . They ask for a CAP which allows sustainable family farms to make a living and to be passed on to the next generation.
• to increase jobs : to reverse the trend of the disappearance of farms – and to encourage young people to enter farming – the new CAP has first to recognize them on economical and social levels.
• to respect environment, decrease global warming and save biodiversity . The industrialization of agricultural production and animal factory farms need to be stopped. Agricultural practices and production methods that are favourable to the climate and biodiversity exist: implementing them means breaking away from the current model.
• sustainable family farming produces positive externalities and is recognized for that by the European citizens. Most of these externalities proceed directly from the way they produce agricultural products. The new CAP must stop favouring an agriculture producing negative externalities for citizens, who pay both for the CAP and for these damages.
• European agriculture should no longer harm the agricultural economies of third countries. The CAP and the rules of International commerce (which whitewash the dumping of EU exports below their production costs) need to be completely rebuilt. The duty to stop dumping has to be accompanied by the right of the EU and third countries to protect themselves from imports at too low a price.
3. Why reform the CAP?
The current CAP as well as the WTO framework on which it is based have shown their inability to resolve problems; on the contrary they have aggravated them to the detriment of farmers, consumers, the environment and health. We have to change the present framework, where priority is given to export/import, to a framework based on food sovereignty, where priority is given to feeding the European population.
We cannot build an agricultural economy with prices structurally below the costs of production. A farmer’s income based on subsidies decoupled from production is not comprehensible to citizens and it did not solve the lack of international legitimacy of the CAP.
To keep this framework by trying to legitimize these subsidies as a reward for the provision of “public goods” is a step in the wrong direction. And the problem of public damages (pollution, erosion , waste of energy and CO², deruralization through excessive enlargement of farms, negative multifunctionality of animal factory farming, etc..) caused by those who often receive the majority of the subsidies has to be solved.
4. What tools do we need for the CAP of tomorrow?
Income, farm prices: to maintain farmers, for achieving food security, farmers have to be able to live primarily from selling their products. This includes stable farm prices linked to the costs of production and not to world prices. Below are some concomitant instruments to achieve this:
• Supply management and market regulation,
• No more exports at prices below their production costs and variable tariffs, including for animal feedstuffs, at a level linked with the average European cost of production,
• Direct payments, capped per agricultural active person on the farm, given to small farms , which don’t produce enough to live from the market but have a multifunctional role, and to farms of less favoured agro-climatic areas, which have higher costs of production,
• Transparency and fair repartition of added value along the food chain .
Environment : standards involving less use of energy, chemical inputs and water, and fewer carbon emissions and that support biodiversity and health should be established for all farms. Farms that go beyond these standards or which use agronomic practices that increase the level of organic matter present in the soil, which captures carbon and supports long-term fertility, should be promoted and supported. Research and training have to be orientated in this direction.
Set-up of farms and access to land: we need European and national measures that will allow many young people to become farmers. The concentration of agricultural land and urban sprawling onto agricultural land should be prevented.
A rural development policy is needed to complete the previous measures. It should prioritize rural employment, local trade and proximity services, and provide a good geographical re-balancing of production.
Agricultural workers: Member States have to be obliged to fix minimum wages. European or migrant, workers should have the same rights.
Women farmers: Measures should be taken for the legal recognition of the rights of women farmers.
International agricultural trade: the current regulations governing trade have to be questioned – the Doha Round of the WTO and the “free” trade agreements of the EU with third countries should be abandoned. New rules for international trade have to be based on food sovereignty and the right to food.
Agrofuels: The EU should stop supporting the use and growing of industrial agrofuels (bad energy and CO² assessments for European agrofuels, competition with agricultural lands dedicated to food production).
GMOs: Production and import of GMOS and patents on life have to be banned. The use, exchange and reproduction of farmer’s seeds should be promoted.