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Thursday, 17 March 2011

Commitment to green CAP reaffirmed at Forum for Agriculture

At the Forum for Agriculture, held in on 15 March in Brussels, Agriculture Commissioner Cioloş and Environment Commissioner Potocnik reaffirmed their commitment to a green CAP. While farmers only make up 2% of the European population, they handle about two thirds of the European territory. “With the new CAP, we want farmers to produce public goods and maintain the environment,” Cioloş said, “but we also need to give them the means to do so.” The Commissioner pointed out that consumers had to be prepared to pay adequately for high-quality food. “We cannot impose more duties on farmers and at the same time expect prices to drop.” Panel discussants highlighted the need to apply equal safety controls to food produced within the EU and imported food. “Lenient controls in Rotterdam undermine the European prices”, deplored Padraig Walshe, president of the European farmers association COPA. They also lead to the fact that European consumers have no understanding of what they are really eating. Overall, panel members agreed that courageous reforms of food systems are needed. Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute, put this into perspective by speaking about food and water bubbles in the world. “We have to change global understanding of security,” he said, “away from military confrontations towards water shortage and demographic change.” At present, the world is already consuming more food than it produces. China and India, two of the largest wheat producers in the world, are straining their water resources to grow crops. “At some point, global water supply will peak, probably at the same time that oil peaks, and then it will start decreasing,” Brown warned. He urged countries to create coherence between food and energy policy. “In future, decisions in the energy ministries will have more impact on food and water supply than decisions in the agriculture ministries.” He also suggested thinking about measures to limit population growth and to slow down water decrease.

Source: CTA