Farm & Food Policy & EU
EU Agriculture Policy delayed by 2 years "It will allow for the continuation of uninterrupted payments; providing at least one welcome dose of predictability during the Covid 19 crisis" In the EU, but not in UK!
"The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the Green Deal. It addresses comprehensively the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognises the inextricable links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet.""A shift to a sustainable food system can bring environmental, health and social benefits, offer economic gains and ensure that the recovery from the crisis puts us onto a sustainable path1 . Ensuring a sustainable livelihood for primary producers, who still lag behind in terms of income2 , is essential for the success of the recovery and the transition."The EU 'Farm to Fork (F2F)' proposals was delayed due to the coronavirus. "whilst it is true that farmers are facing new challenges – such as access to labour or issues in supply chains – to which we must respond, we also “need to start planning for the future to build more resilient and sustainable food supply chains – exactly what the F2F Strategy is about.” "The Farm to Fork Strategy is a new comprehensive approach to how Europeans value food sustainability...Even as societies become more urbanised, they want to feel closer to their food. They want food that is fresh, less processed and sustainably sourced. And the calls for shorter supply chains have intensified during the current outbreak. Consumers should be empowered to choose sustainable food and all actors in the food chain should see this as their responsibility and opportunity."
This big debate is going on in EU about radical transformation of CAP. We should be there to change our food system (see Right to Food). EU Commission starts discussion about future CAP June 18. CAP briefing November '19 - aims to "support young people setting up in farming, while creating good working and living conditions in rural areas. "
"The new CAP promises to be more ambitious in terms of environmental care and climate action. Firstly, the mandatory requirements with which farmers have to comply will be further strengthened. New obligations will include: (1) preserving carbon-rich soils through protection of wetlands and peatlands, (2) nutrient management to improve water quality and reduce ammonia and nitrous oxide levels and (3) crop rotation instead of crop diversification. In addition, farmers will be rewarded for going beyond mandatory requirements. For these, each member country will develop their own system of eco-schemes and agri-environment-climate measures to incentivize farmers towards practices that fit the local context of each country. Digitalization and precision agriculture receives attention in the future CAP as an important tool to optimize soil fertility and reduce pollution by supporting better farm management and matching fertilizer inputs with actual plant nutrient requirements. Despite the on-going “greening” of CAP, scientists in a recent critical statement demand that EU is even more ambitious and rather than light green aspires for dark green". European Geoscience Blog
EU using the eco-scheme top maximise environmental benefits Oct '19. "If well targeted and tailored to Member States environmental and climate needs, the eco-scheme, could be an important instrument to support farmers and/or land managers who wish to transition towards more sustainable farming practices and systems "
But we could be in the EU promoting the 'nationalisation' of the CAP, which is under serious consideration at the present. De Schutter calls for more food in CAP as he "believes the food dimension is not sufficiently present in the CAP," . 100 organisations call for fairer more sustainable & resilient system). Possible future European Food Policy
Delivering a stakeholder informed vision for agriculture and fisheriesForeign Secretary Johnson says 'it will be good for carrots'. "It can be good for carrots too by the way since you, well you didn't mention it, we will be able to take back control of our agricultural policy it may be we can do wonderful things with our own regulations to promote organic carrots " Trouble is "The carrot industry hardly imports or exports ANY carrots. The only effect of Brexit is that that there will be fewer manual workers for the harvest, so prices will go up.
German farm protests
Massive farm protests in Germany at new agricultural policy. "They complained about increasing environmental protection requirements and falling product prices, which are increasingly damaging their business ...'Land Creates Connections' is group of farmers outside the established farmers’ associations who have joined forces, saying there are "more and more requirements and less and less reward".
The new requirements comes as a result of the European Commission’s second infringement proceedings against Germany regarding the country’s unacceptably high levels of nitrate in groundwater. Many farmers are concerned that the Mercosur trade agreement concluded with South America, which intends to remove tariff barriers on agricultural products, will lead to intense price competition, and hence even less reward.
The 9 CAP Objectives are those of the European Union
Time for sustainable food system "We see the Common Food Policy as a solution, as an umbrella policy that gets agricultural and food policy out of the silos and aligns actions across different policy areas and different levels of governance in support of building sustainable food systems. ". For more on CAP in EU
"The future CAP will continue to ensure access to high-quality food and strong support for the unique European farming model with an increased focus on the environment and climate, supporting the transition towards a more sustainable agricultural sector and the development of vibrant rural areas." The EU Commission opening discussion.
The EU is reducing CAP subsidies. The EC proposes "to reduce farm subsidies and leave more latitude to member states under CAP, drawing swift condemnation from France, which called the move “unthinkable”. " So we could be having the following discussion if we were still in the EU...
CAP & UK
Whatever form of Brexit, EU CAP subsidies will go. How we replace them is a vital issue for farm and food. Labour's EU Agricultural Speaker says that after transition, 'at least 10% subsidies will go - and the Tories should come clean'. Lib Dems say they want to move away from direct subsidies to support public goods. They also want a National Food Policy. Minister announces plans for subsidy changes June 2018
Landworkers' Alliance Response "The current BPS (Basic Payment Scheme) payments need to be replaced by a better financial support system for active farmers and help to transition to agroecological farming systems. What we need is a more farmers working in agriculture in the United Kingdom not less. " I argue (Chapter 5) that £3+b subsidies going to landowners at present should go to 300,000 permanent land workers (This incudes farmers and farmworkers) each receiving £10,000 - enough to make a Living wage.
Paul's Column (Labour MEP) makes two priorities for 'Public Money for public good' - increase carbon content of soils and improve access to countryside
Dominic Cummings master mind behind Brexit and BJ's Chief of Staff has received £20k/yr for over two decades for a farm he is part owner of in Durham. Yet he makes out he is part of the people attacking the elite and their subsidies “dreamed up in the 1950s and 1960s”. They “raise prices for the poor to subsidise rich farmers while damaging agriculture in Africa” (on his own blog).He notoriously came up with the claim that leaving the EU would allow the UK to spend an extra £350m a week on the NHS. His blog clarified the claim, explaining “the Treasury gross figure is slightly more than £350m of which we get back roughly half, though some of this is spent in absurd ways like subsidies for very rich landowners to do stupid things”....
Debate !!!The government opened up a consultation about future subsidies for food and farming. If Brexit has done nothing else, it has opened up a debate we should have been having for the last 50 years. See Consultation for details
New Defra Sustain workshop suggests merging the present 2 pillars under CAP, to one. It means that it is not just a matter of enhancing environmental aspects but builds them in to the economy. The key line, in the Regulatory Framework, says: "This standardised baseline should provide the minimum threshold for subsidies". But it does not give any idea what these standards may apply to. I would argue it should include health and safety – remember farming is still the most dangerous industry for deaths at work.
A later paragraph goes on to say "Subsidies need to encourage best practise and specifically diversification, rotations and mixed farming".Regulations stop the worst excesses. Subsidies can reward the best. Can the two be linked like this? Do inspectors go round with wads of money?
My Comments on consultation...in brief..Welcome 1 Maintaining level of subsidies, although should start transition earlier for 5 years. 2 Addressing flood control. 3 Moving subsidies from ownership of land, including cap on any single landowner - previously blocked by ex PM Cameron in the EU. (PS Also agree with his view on pesticides not in this speech)Do not welcome 1 Turning the UK into a parkland. 2 Silence on growing more healthy food 3 Walking away from our largest food market - with no tariffs (Customs Union) nor any non-tariff barriers (Single Market). 4 Silence on reliance on modern slave labour and migrant workers that led to Brexit 5. Fate of sheep/dairy farmers 6 Nothing on infrastructure to grow more local food for ourselves, saving other peoples' environments.
See Chap 7 Sustainability for much more. Gove's vision of Brexit will make life difficult in rural areas, but preserving a view of the countryside from cities, as highlighted by APPG report, who say "poorly handled trade deals biggest peacetime threat to UK food security". 5 food fights in trade deals.
Greening CAPMichael Gove's oft repeated position is "We should use some of that money (guaranteed same as now till 2020) to sustain and boost agricultural productivity. But the lion’s share of that money should go to farmers to help them to do the right thing environmentally.” At Oxford Farming Conference in 2018 he said: "We will design a scheme accessible to almost any land owner or manager who wishes to enhance the natural environment by planting woodland, providing new habitats for wildlife, increasing biodiversity, contributing to improved water quality and returning cultivated land to wildflower meadows or other more natural states.” He also guaranteed the same level of subsidies until at 2014. "We can have our own - national - food policy, our own agriculture policy, our own environment policies, our own economic policies, shaped by our own interests." "New trade deals with other countries outside the EU would provide new markets for the "superb food" Britain's farmers".
Full Speech with my Commentary Game & Wildlife loved it Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust vision for post-Brexit Policy "is built on three important beliefs – that any successful system must be farmer-led, work on a large scale and reward activity that actually generates positive environmental outcomes, be they species recovery, carbon storage or soil health."
He then went to the Oxford Real Farming Conference saying “The future for British food is in quality and provenance and traceability and competing at the top of the value chain,” Possible contradictions between two speeches
NFU sets out vision of coming out of CAP - in three phases: 1) Stability & Continuity 2) Review & Assessment 3) New ambitious policy. The outgoing President said " These cornerstones should be seen like a milking stool - there's a lot of spilt milk if you remove one of them. He added we need to access the EU market and a reliable workforce. That means staying in the EU but he wont say it!
No SubsidiesChatham House says subsidies should be heavily curtailed or abolished to mix free trade with meeting green targets. A market-orientated model, such as the one in New Zealand, would lower food prices and increase productivity. It warned many smaller farms would probably fold but said the scale of job losses could be "exaggerated". If you are in the City it may look 'exaggerated' but not if you are working the land. See AHDB New Zealand Experience when they removed subsidies. New Zealand created new markets, while we are walking away from our largest market. Lobbying behind this 'New Zealand' policy is Legatum Institute/Foundation. They believe "There is now a brief opportunity for Britain to restore her freedom to trade, liberalising the global trading system itself...reflecting the will of the people"
Bright Blue 'Think Tank' suggest in Greener, More Pleasant Land doing away with subsidies and replacing with market based system to encourage to work in a more environmentally-sustainable way by bidding for green contracts.