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« Health check »:There is no diagnosis from the Commission and the treatment is wrong

26 November 2007

The first task of the “health check” should be to evaluate the results of the CAP implemented since 2003. The CAP is sick, and the Commission is going the wrong treatment. Farms disappear, the planet runs hot, hunger increases:give other policies a chance ! Positions and proposals about the health check. For an agriculture policy based on legitimacy, fairness, solidarity and sustainability.

Common Agriculture Policy To save sustainable family farming, let’ s change the CAP already in 2008 into a CAP based on legitimacy, fairness, solidarity and sustainability « Health check »:There is no diagnosis from the Commission and the treatment is wrong The first task of the “health check” should be to evaluate the results of the CAP implemented since 2003. The CAP is sick, and the Commission is going the wrong treatment. Producers observe that in many sectors their situation deteriorated. The number of farmers goes on collapsing, the income of sustainable family farming decreases and over-intensive, energy-intensive modes of production continue to develop. More than ever we need an agriculture policy: the market has no vocation for answering the stakes of food, employment, environment, countryside. The agricultural policy cannot be resumed, today or in 2013, in a rural development policy, which would gloss over the effects of the market. A two-speed agriculture, where large agricultural companies for the global market coexist with residual sustainable family farms surviving on local market, has no future. The two current pillars of the CAP cause and accompany the non renewal of the farms and the disappearance of sustainable family farming. The CAP reform of 1992, 1999, and 2003, in close link with the WTO negotiations, did not cure its initial problems (dependence for plant proteins, dumping on the world market, over-intensification of agriculture, regional concentration of the productions) and created new problems (very bad distribution of the direct payments between sectors, farms, regions - penalization of sustainable breeding on meadows – re-nationalization started in 2003 for the benefit of the rich EU countries). The EU destroyed the regulations instead of adapting them. When farmer’s income depends so much on direct payments, as it is the case for many producers since payments replaced prices, how to be astonished to see so many farms disappearing and young people resign? Farms disappear, the planet runs hot, hunger increases:give other policies a chance ! The WTO failure today is probable. Since the ministerial conference in Cancún in 2003, the USA and UE can no more write the rules as they both did in 1994 and prefer now negotiate many bilateral agreements, where they try to impose what they did not succeed to do at WTO. But many Southern countries don’t want rightly to sign these agreements. Hunger, increased gap between rich and poor, plundering of resources, delocalization, migrations: the « liberal » globalisation failed: give food sovereignty, re-localization, fair trade a chance! Climate and energy crisis: They bring much unreliability about the agricultural geography in the next future. If Canada, Russia will increase considerably their agricultural area, Europe, especially in the South, will meet great difficulties. That is the reason to question the prevailing model of production and trade at the international level, instead of promoting agrofuels, which are more an illusion that a solution. Give sustainable family farming, more saving, more self-governing (seeds, energy, animal feed,..) and local trade a chance ! World food needs: facing the growing food needs linked with population’s growth till 2050 and the entry of China and other «emerging» countries into the Western consumption model, food sovereignty, which disappeared with the WTO, is lacking. This model, which consumes too much meat, is to be questioned. Increased grain prices : this appears as a large increase because grain prices were very low during the last years, below the costs of production. This increase is over-invoiced by the agro-industry and the supermarkets to the consumer, whereas they did not forward to the consumer the huge price decrease of the last 15 years! The reasons for this increase (financial speculation, repeated droughts in Australia, increasing demand for raw materials in Asia, development of agrofuels, ..) may turn and become reasons for price decrease. Well we cannot play monopoly with food: give the regulation of agricultural markets, on European and international level, a chance! Diseases : after the mad cow disease, symbol of the damages of the industrialisation of agriculture and food production, whose balance of the negative externalities remains to be done, here is the avian flue, symbol of the globalisation of poultry production, with a handful of companies owning its genetics and global chick lots infecting farms (migratory birds have a broad back!). Here are pesticides, which, after replacing farm labour, are becoming a tick bomb for our health. Positions and proposals about the « health check » - Decoupling between direct payments and production: this instrument is absurd when direct payments, instead of prices, represent the income of the production. It has little to do with the modes of production but leads to the abandonment of production when the price is lower than the production costs, as in animal production. We need a link between direct payments and production, associated with supply management. - A better distribution of payments: it is essential, in term of social legitimacy, to strongly reduce the current disparities. It is necessary to put a ceiling, per work unit, on the payments of the first and second pillar. The ceiling proposed by the Commission is too high, with a too low reduction beyond. Whether the historical reference, unfair with respect to the small-scale farms and to the non concerned sectors, or the single payment per ha, which goes hand in hand with a total decoupling, there will never be any good instrument, as long as these payments will be a great part of farmer’s income. In addition, the single payment rights should not be marketable any more: how to justify a trade of subsidies to the taxpayer? - Market regulation : the abandonment of any market regulation, the setting of a single Common Market Organization in name of simplification hand over farmers further to the hands of banks/insurance companies, which would guarantee the large business farms against market risks and disease risks. It is a serious error if one wants to maintain sustainable family farming. o Breeding and other weakened sectors with high labour value should be supported(for ex fruits & vegetables): the high price increase of grain and animal feedstuffs jeopardize many breeders. o Yes to the suppression of set aside, which is not a supply management instrument adapted to Europe. Yes to a long term set aside of high value zones for biodiversity. o No to the suppression of milk quotas after 2015 . The price increase could be just provisory. Supply management is necessary . The abandonment of quotas would concentrate further the production and jeopardize it in the less favoured areas. No to a quota increase (the present quota is largely upon the EU internal needs). To keep a public management of the quotas and to improve their implementation. Every « production right » should be no marketable. o Intervention : no to an intervention used for managing structural surpluses, but yes to a supply management which permits, in case of conjunctural crisis, to guarantee a minimal price. o Wine reform : no to a global wine. The grubbing up is not a solution of supply management. To maintain the rights of plantation. No to the transfer of power for deciding rules from the Council to the Commission. For an agriculture policy based on legitimacy, fairness, solidarity and sustainability To develop a multi-functional sustainable family farming, which sells diversified, safe and quality products, which shapes attractive landscapes, to give the same chance to other countries, the orientation of the CAP should be changed and become legitimate for taxpayers/consumers. Otherwise agro-industry, big retailers and banks will have formatted large agricultural firms and replaced the agricultural policy. Sustainable family farming would then remain only in a few specific markets. - Food sovereignty, a necessary condition: the WTO failure is a chance for EU and other countries to recover the right to define their agriculture policy, without dumping regarding third countries. That is a necessary condition to release the CAP and cure it from its old and new problems. - To live from products and not from subsidies: to maintain on long term sustainable family farms, farmer’s income should come principally from farm prices and not subsidies. For that, market prices should be linked with the European production costs, which are higher than in many other countries. For achieving this, we need supply management at European level (to avoid structural surpluses) and tariffs (to avoid cheap price imports), providing that the present dumping is eliminated. In the less favoured areas, with higher production costs, direct payments, with a ceiling per working unit, are necessary. Such a policy would cost less to the European taxpayers than the present policy. - Supply management and sustainable modes of production: structural causes for surpluses should be eliminated by implementing tariffs also for animal feedstuffs (to recover autonomy for plant proteins) and by abandoning progressively the over-intensive and energy-intensive modes of production. The levels of production should take in account the European needs and possible exports without dumping. - A rural development policy which completes the agriculture policy: the rural development funds should give priority to the settlement of young farmers, rural employment, local and regional trade, and local processing of agricultural products. - No to GMOs: GMOs are useless, dangerous for biodiversity. This is an additional tool for agro-industry to increase their domination on. Co-existence is impossible and the Europeans don’t want GMOs in their plate. We need a clear European decision for a ban. - Industrial agrofuels are a problem, not a solution : they are efficient nor on the energy level nor on greenhouse gas level. The EU indeed is putting in place a super Common Market Organisation for agrofuels, whereas it destroys all others! But the local production of pure oil should be promoted to ensure an energy self government of the farms. - Sustainable family farms can contribute to cool the planet: agricultural practices which increase organic matter in soil, which captures much carbon, should be promoted (for ex meadows). To promote leguminous plants and reduce the use of nitrates. To promote the development of solar energy on the roofs of agricultural buildings.

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