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MEPs and MPs Discuss Future Health of CAP

07 November 2008

EU - The ability of the EU's common agriculture policy (CAP) to cope with the challenges of affordable food and climate change was discussed in Brussels 3-4 November. MEPs were joined by national MPs and farming organisations to discuss the future of Europe's farms.


Modern agriculture like soilless plants and drip irrigation could help yields

The overhaul of the CAP in 2003 aimed to make farmers and farm produce more competitive on the open market. Another key aim was the removal of the incentive to overproduce - which had led to the infamous wine lakes and butter mountains.

The "health check", launched last year, aims to see how the reforms are going. During the first day of the meeting, participants discussed agriculture in more open, globalised markets and the levels of direct support to farmers.

The effect of trade liberalisation on agriculture and the impact of rising food and energy prices were the focus of the second day.

Right kind of farmer support needed, says Fischer Boel

Opening the meeting, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering said, "our aim must be a productive, high-performance, future-oriented agriculture, which preserves rural areas".

European Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said three points are important in the CAP's health check:

  • the ability of European agriculture to respond robustly to market signals – especially when those signals are telling us that the world needs more food.
  • the need for the right kind of support for farmers, so that crises don't turn into disasters for our agricultural production base.
  • the extent to which we can respond to developing challenges such as climate change.

"923 million people suffer from hunger"

British Conservative Neil Parish - who Chairs Parliament's Agriculture Committee - underlined the importance of food security, while French Farm Minister Michel Barnier said, "We must learn the lessons of the financial crisis and act together with the rest of the world to meet the food challenge." Mr Barnier advocated creating a worldwide partnership for food and agriculture.

This point was driven home by the head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf. He told the conference. "Today we face a situation in which 923 million people suffer from hunger - a figure that could rise by another 100 million in a year if we do nothing."

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