Taste the difference: Why CAP reform is still a tasty option
Brussels, Belgium - Today, at a special reception, environment, health and development non-governmental organizations together presented their views on what a sustainable and equitable agricultural policy for Europe could be like and demanded immediate reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
As EU Ministers of Agriculture gear-up to substantive discussions on CAP reform, the NGO coalition, representing millions of European citizens and the concerns of many farming communities in developing countries, has called for radical reform to be undertaken at the time of the Mid-Term Review. Postponement is no longer an option. Europe's consumers demand a healthy countryside, quality food, environmental protection and a equitable agricultural system. The CAP will lose its legitimacy if it continues to drive intensification and pollution in agriculture, land abandonment and un-equitable trade with developing countries. Only 15 per cent of the current CAP budget is today specifically allocated to supporting the environment and rural development even though according to the last Eurobarometer poll that’s what 88 per cent of European consumers expect from a sustainable agricultural policy.
During the reception, Friends of the Earth Europe, European Environmental Bureau, BirdLife International, Oxfam International, European Public Health Alliance and WWF presented high quality food from sustainably managed farms for guests to experience why CAP reform is still a tasty option. The menu included:
• Sustainably produced organic Spanish rice from the Ebro delta wetland area, from paddies which support wildlife and bird communities and habitats at the same time as the local economy, by providing viable employment opportunities
• Three varieties of Greek olives to warn against the loss of agricultural biodiversity through the standards imposed by CAP
• Seasonal fruit and vegetables from Belgium to promote a localisation of the seasonal fresh food chain, to benefit consumer health and confidence and reduce 'food miles' (the long-distance transport of food)
• Extensive beef, to exemplify how some of the most biodiversity-rich lands in Central and Eastern Europe depend on extensive grazing for sustainable management, and to warn against the CAP abandoning marginal areas
• Organic cheeses from Denmark, to demonstrate the value added of converting to production methods which benefit nature and consumer health
• And lots of sachets of sugar, to demonstrate the devastating impact of subsidised overproduction and export dumping on the livelihoods of millions of farmers in developing countries
The coalition of NGOs called for the following concerns to be addressed to ensure that the CAP becomes a means to truly support equitable development, health and the environment:
"Localisation of sustainable food economies benefits everyone...it creates jobs, connects farmers and consumers, benefits the environment and the nutrient content of food. By increasing people's access to a greater variety of fresh fruit and vegetables with fewer pesticides, public health also comes out as a winner," said Tamsin Rose, General Secretary of the European Public Health Alliance EPHA.
"The CAP should stop promoting industrial farming which is killing off so many European varieties and favours big farms at the expense of small farms and the environment. The new goal of CAP should be to provide Europe with quality food and agricultural biodiversity," said Kees Kodde, Chairman Friends of the Earth Europe.
“By encouraging over-production and export-dumping EU agricultural subsidies are destroying millions of livelihoods in developing countries. The EU must urgently eliminate all export subsidies and stop dumping EU agricultural produce on world markets," said Jo Leadbeater, Head of EU Advocacy for Oxfam International.
"Much more money is needed for rural development, and at least half of these funds must be earmarked for agri-environment such as organic farming or landscape management. The proposed Mid-Term Review is an essential step towards achieving this, however, it is only a first step," said John Hontelez, Secretary General of the European Environmental Bureau EEB.
“Strong rural development is key for the natural heritage of the Candidate Countries and the only economic solution in an enlarged CAP. Member States must show their commitment to nature by acting now, and leading the way in placing the second pillar at the heart of the CAP,” said Elizabeth Guttenstein, Head of European Agriculture and Rural Development for WWF.
“The current CAP model of supporting farmers through price support has failed to meet the economic, social and environmental needs of rural Europe. Farmers should be entrusted with caring for the countryside. They need to be financially supported for delivering safe food and a healthy environment in bringing wildlife back to farmland habitats all over Europe," said Miguel Naveso, Head of BirdLife International European Community Office.
For further information:
BirdLife International: Edith Verhoestraete, phone +32 2 2800830, mobile +32 478 474391,
EEB: John Hontelez, phone +32 2 289 1301, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
European Public Health Alliance: Genon Jensen, phone: +32 230 3056, email: email@example.com
Friends of the Earth Europe: Joanna Dober, phone: +32 2 5420180, GSM: +31 6 29593876; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oxfam International: Jo Leadbeater, tel +32 497 422329, email: email@example.com
WWF: Angelina Hermanns, phone +32 2 740 0925, mobile +32 497 258042, email: firstname.lastname@example.org