An analysis of 325,000 responses to a three-month public consultation on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy will be presented by the European Commission to a major stakeholder conference in Brussels this coming Friday.
Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan said he did not wish to prejudge the results of this consultation and analysis, but he had already highlighted three main priorities: These are the resilience of the sector, working towards greater sustainability and encouraging generation renewal.
Mr Hogan said the CAP must strengthen its capacity to increase the economic resilience of farmers, who are entrepreneurs and must get a fair price for products.
“We need to support sustainable farm incomes, increase the competitiveness of the sector, promote greater use of risk management tools and improve the position of farmers in the food chain,” said Mr Hogan.
“It is clear that direct payments play a decisive role and will continue to do so in the future. However, resilience should not be viewed solely from an economic point of view. Pressure on the resources and effects of climate change also play an important role in the resilience of farmers.”
Referring to the second priority, working towards greater sustainability, Mr Hogan said there is need to scale up action on climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation.
“We must also encourage the sustainable management of natural resources and preserve our natural sites and landscapes,” said Mr Hogan.
“Natural resources and ecosystems are the foundation of agricultural production. Therefore, sustainable production is in the best interest of farmers and society as a whole.”
Mr Hogan said the second pillar of the CAP, rural development policy, is the main instrument of the EU to support targeted territorial measures that contribute to the achievement of environmental objectives.
To make all the changes come true requires the third policy — encouraging a new generation of ambitious and innovative young farmers.
Describing 2017 as an important year for the evolution of the CAP, he said: “It is very important that we choose the right path together. I want every rural community, every region, every farmer organisation and every Government to speak out on the issue of modernising and simplifying the CAP In general, everyone agrees that our European food production system must make a quantum leap in the 21st century.
“It must produce more and better to feed an increasing world population, doing more to protect our environment and our climate.
“To achieve this, we need the active contribution of powerful stakeholder organisations such as the Global Food Forum.”
Mr Hogan said the CAP has been a cornerstone of the European project. It was established more than 50 years ago, with the aim of producing more food and stabilising markets during the post-war period. These objectives are still valid today, as is the idea that our farmers need support from society to achieve them, he said.
Mr Hogan, at the Global Food Forum in France, said he does not wish to reform CAP for the sake of it.
“But we have to admit that European agriculture is confronted with an unprecedented combination of challenges, and we must find new ways to meet them,” he said.
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