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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Olivier de Schutter: CAP reform must put an end to dumping

“The CAP is a 50 billion euro contradiction of the EU’s commitment to help put developing world agriculture back on its feet, and will remain so under today’s reform plans. Farm subsidies of this magnitude will always produce distortions,” warned the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, in response to the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) reform proposals from the European Commission.

“The main victims are developing world farmers, who are crowded out of their own markets by subsidized western produce. The EU has opened its doors to developing world exports, but this is worth nothing if small-holders in the South cannot sell staple crops on their home markets,” Mr. De Schutter underlined.

The Special Rapporteur noted that in their attempts to ensure access to food for vulnerable population groups, low-income countries often look to cheap food imports from abroad. But this makes these countries very vulnerable to price shocks, and it represents a strong disincentive for local producers. “We must help them succeed in a transition that will reduce their dependency on food imports in the long-term by rebuilding their broken agricultural systems,” he said, “not feed them – but help them feed themselves.”

“Maintaining huge farm subsidies in the West cannot be justified by the objective of ‘feeding the world’. If increases in food production rise in tandem with further marginalization of small-scale farmers in developing countries, the battle against hunger and malnutrition will be lost.”

The Special Rapporteur welcomed the European Commission’s plans to cap payments to the EU’s biggest farms, and to make a portion of subsidies subject to a higher environmental baseline. “Redirecting money away from large, polluting farms, and towards those who really need it, is a step in the right direction,” De Schutter stated. “But green requirements should underpin every penny of the taxpayer’s money - not a meager 30 percent. CAP reform should also do more to cut the EU’s dependency on the burgeoning soya and maize imports which feed European livestock, and strain natural resources in the rest of the world.”

But he warned that the most worrying aspect is the CAP budget. “There is still too much public money being ploughed into making EU agriculture internationally competitive – money which cannot be matched in the developing world,” he said.

Source: UN Special Representative on the Right to Food