Oliver Moore: CAP talks begin by evading contact

Though not due an upgrade until 2020, last week saw the formal start of the next CAP consultation process.

Samuel Feret, of EU think tanks Groupe de Bruges and ARC2020, says the CAP talks are reduced to a checklist of preferences

Don’t let this early start fool you — 2017 will see an altogether less ambitious, hurried CAP consultation process than the previous CAP reform. 

Indeed the whole consultation process will be completed by end of year. To kick things off, EU Agri Commissioner Phil Hogan rolled out a consultation document on February 2.

This document is, with some exceptions, mostly a checklist of preferences. As Samuel Feret, of the EU think tanks Groupe de Bruges and ARC2020, puts it: “there are very few ‘how to’s’ and plenty of ‘which do you prefers’”. 

Thus, a chance to engage seriously with bigger EU or agri-food issues is lost.

In anticipation of the consultation, the organic sector’s European representative body IFOAM EU released its CAP policy document: “A CAP for healthy farms, healthy people, healthy planet”.

It calls for a single Pillar and a refocusing of CAP towards “public goods” and “farm sustainability”.

The publication claims: “the CAP is not fit to address the challenges facing the agri-food sector from food security, to rural development, to climate change — less than 30% of EU agriculture spending goes to environmental and climate action and investments in sustainable farming systems account for a mere 1.5%.”

Instead, it demands “the environmental, social, and public health costs of farming — largely ignored and often not correctly calculated — are better reflected in the price paid to farmers and the cost of food. 

"With such changes, farmers and all workers across the food value chain can be fairly remunerated, while the value of food production can be fairly distributed across the system.”

IFOAM EU continues, “fully implementing the principle of public money for public goods can start creating more solid foundations for mainstreaming high-quality food production and helping Europe to start phasing out its current approach of producing ‘cheap food’ for global markets.”

However presently, “there is often an insufficient economic motivation for farmers to provide public goods, demonstrating the failure of the market to adequately value public goods.”

Changing this prioritisation would enable farmers “to make sound decisions on all aspects of sustainability for their entire farm enterprise and at the same time meet societal expectations.”

Public Goods for IFOAM EU include both environmental — soil, water, air, biodiversity, climate change adaptation and mitigation; as well as societal — agri-diversity, animal welfare, landscapes and social capital.

Proposals

Specifically, IFOAM EU has recommended the following:

  • A single pillar framework with one budget that incentivises and rewards farmers delivering a range of public goods at farm level (100% EU financed)
  • Complementary supporting measures covering issues related to farm advice and extension services, supply chain development, infrastructural investments, innovation, organic farming payments, and promotional activities, etc (nationally co-financed.
  • Provision of public goods and services representing 80% of the overall CAP budget, with supporting measures accounting the remaining 20% by 2034.

For IFOAM EU then, “the single pillar approach is therefore based on a flagship payment model that incentivises and rewards environmental and socio-economic services delivered at farm level, complimented by supporting measures.”

The organisation states that as “EU Member States facing differing budgetary starting points, successive actions over the next three CAP reform cycles from 2021 to 2034 are needed.”

Proposed actions

  • 2021: Immediate transfer of 50% of the existing Pillar 1 budget and 10% of the existing Pillar 2 budget to a new single budget for supporting public goods delivery 100% EU financed21
  • 2021-2034: Setting of mandatory budgetary milestones at EU level for the transferring of the remaining CAP budget to the new single Pillar system
  • 2034: Final implementation of the one pillar payment system with 80% of agricultural spending dedicated to public goods delivery and 20% for supporting measures.

Whatever about the position IFOAM EU are taking, in reality, the organisation’s relationship with Phil Hogan is at an all-time low, which we will return to again.



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