This is an excellent article from the Economist and well worth a read. Check it out!
via Charlemagne: Milking the budget | The Economist.
I endorse the Economist’s argument that radical reform to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is way overdue, especially in times of austerity.
What do you think?
Adam is right to say that the last thing we need is anything that reduces the food supply (we actually need the reverse) but I feel it is broke and it does need to be fixed.
If there is money available from taxpayers there are only two areas within the agricultural industry in which it should be spent: to improve land so as to improve yields with less reliance on aggressive pesticides and herbicides or to maintain and improve the natural habitat. Both are, of course, selfish aims.
We now know that to rely on imported food to the extent that we do makes us very vulnerable to large scale crop failures. The high cost of cereals not only raises food prices directly but also the cost of animal feed and that will create a secondary increase in time. We showed how much more productive the UK could be during the war and shortly thereafter. Obviously we cannot expect to become self-reliant as far as food is concerned and, indeed, that would not be entirely desirable but there are very good arguments for making sure that we produce as much as we reasonably can.
Improving the natural habitat is also important as it ensures that the ecosystem, of which farming is a part, remains in good heart. A good example of failure in this respect is the very low yields of apples in the UK this year. Yes, the weather has been terrible but the main problem was that there was insufficient fertilisation when the trees were carrying blossom. Again the weather had an impact but so did the dearth of insects. We do not yet know why bee populations have collapsed but it is reasonable to assume that improving the natural habitat would help to increase numbers.
What we do not need – and why the CAP Pillar 1 is a disaster – is to pay people for just being farmers even though they produce nothing of benefit.
Thanks. I do not think that we are so far apart in our views. We both agree that CAP Pillar 1 is a disaster. For me, yhis disaster should be addressed in the next seven year planning period.
Normally I would agree with most of what you write, however, I am not sure we want more political interference into the European food supply. It is one of the things in Europe that is mostly consistently good. If it’s not broke etc etc.
The last thing we need at the moment is a broken food production and supply system.
I understand your argument but we are looking at a seven year planning period here. Surely, it would be right to look for improvements in agricultural effectiveness in this period? In my view, the reason that the CAP has escaped radical change so far is because of the powerful farming lobby?
I would live to see a resolution within the EU but I fear that is not going to prove possible. The EU should have been the natural outcome of a period of political cooperation and economic unity – instead it was created in the hope that the political cooperation and economic unity would follow the creation of the EU. All the evidence is that that won’t happen and that the tensions being built up within the peoples of Europe could well result in violence – not a good idea.
Time to call time on the EU and set about getting the foundation stones firmly in place before creating another European group – federation perhaps. All is not lost of lessons are learned and applied. All will be lost if the democratic deficits throughout Europe are ignored.