Organic Perspectives on CAP Reform
A new paper on 'The long term development of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) - Analysis and recommendations for an ecological orientation of agricultural policies' has been published by the EU Group of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). The paper is structured in three sections:
- A historical overview of CAP reform from the MacSharry reforms in the early 1990s up until the introduction of decoupling in 2005 and current justifications for CAP payments.
- Looking forward: two options for development of Agriculture and CAP after 2014.
- The Organic agriculture movement and the 2014 CAP reform.
The report raises serious questions about the legitimacy of current Pillar 1 expenditure which currently sinks €40 billion a year into agriculture, mainly through decoupled direct payments, a situation which, the author maintains, has no sort of justification.
The report then discusses two contrasting options for reforming the CAP from 2014 onwards, namely the 'global free market' (cheapest possible production) and the 'European agrarian model' propagated by former Agriculture Commissioner Fischler (the architect of the 2003 Mid-Term Review of the CAP), which seeks recognise such criteria as grassland extensification, ecology, biodiversity, climate protection, etc.
Finally the report concludes by making five recommendations regarding reform of the CAP from 2014 onwards from the viewpoint of the Organic agriculture movement:
- There should first of all be a discussion of what a European agriculture policy is supposed to achieve. From the viewpoint of the Organic agriculture movement, the 'growth' model of a mono-functional agro-industry, optimising only its own costs and oriented only towards the world market, cannot remain the focus of public policy. The CAP must henceforth concentrate on further elaborating and implementing a 'European agrarian model' that follows the principles of multi-functionality and long-term sustainability.
- Since the 'new challenges' identified in the CAP Health Check, namely the protection of climate, biodiversity & water resources, can best be met with the help of the Organic agricultural methods and, since these can also best be used to implement the 'European agrarian model', organic agriculture should be elevated as the guiding light of the CAP.
- All future subsidies, whether they are for investment or paid per unit of area, should be justified on values recognised by society, i.e. genuinely objective criteria. The European Court of Auditors has already drawn attention to this necessity, in reference to the second pillar of CAP as well as to 'cross compliance'.
- Investment subsidies must no longer be paid 'only' to render a relatively small number of farms competitive on the world market. Rather strategies should be elaborated for all farmers wanting to devote themselves to a more sustainable mode of production, preferably the organic mode of production. Not so much the expansion & specialisation of farms, rather their ecological condition should henceforth be the decisive criterion for awarding subsidies.
- Future direct area payments must be conditional on practical 'services' rendered by farmers for the conservation of the natural environment, for animal welfare, as well as in quality production and job creation. They must be based on existing legislated standards. Compensation for the nonetheless existing constraints of competition on the world market is only acceptable if the particular difficulties and the amount of subsidy awarded are transparently and effectively justified. Any reintroduction of incentive components must support the attractiveness of these measures in the current second pillar.
To read the report in full, please click here.