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Food firms join chorus of disapproval on CAP reform

By Mike Stones , 12-Oct-2011
Last updated on 14-Oct-2011 at 15:34 GMT

The current CAP reform proposals will bring a bitter harvest if implemented, warn food firms, farmers and environmentalists
The current CAP reform proposals will bring a bitter harvest if implemented, warn food firms, farmers and environmentalists

European food industry body FoodDrinkEurope has joined farmers and environmentalists in a chorus of disapproval following the publication of the Commission’s plans to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

“A missed opportunity,” was the unanimous verdict of all three groups on the proposals designed to set out the community’s policies on food, the environment and rural communities between 2014-2020.

Food firms and farmers expressed disappointment that the proposals do not place more emphasis on productivity.

FoodDrinkEurope president Jesús Serafín Pérez said: “Europe’s food and drink industry purchases and processes 70% of EU agricultural production. As such, it has an inherent interest in promoting a competitive, poductive and sustainable EU agricultural sector which delivers adequate quantities of agricultural raw materials that correspond to specific quality criteria and that are competitively priced.

Food industry

“The CAP reform should reflect this interdependence between European farmers and the food industry.”

Pérez questioned whether the proposals would allow Europe to meet the increasing demands for food.The CAP should address more explicitly the need to boost output while protecting EU productive potential and safeguarding natural resources, such as soil and water, he added.

Perez said he would make it a priority to "work with EU decision-makers to ensure Europe’s producers and processors are able to tackle the twin challenges of food security and environmental pressures, guaranteeing the long-term competitiveness of Europe’s largest manufacturing industry".

In a joint statement, farmers’ representatives the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said the proposals were “disappointing and a missed opportunity”.

According to their statement: “The Commission says it wants ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for European agriculture'. Both the NFU and CLA believe very few of the proposals will help meet those objectives and many of them will actually move farming in England and Wales in the opposite direction.”

The obligation to take up to seven per cent of a farm’s area out of production should be reduced significantly, they added.

Damage the environment

Meanwhile, campaign group WWF said the proposals threatened the environment. The proposals risk giving €372bn to intensive agriculture practices that will benefit mainly only large farms and which will damage the environment, it said.

Matthias Meissner, WWF leader on the CAP reform said: “After lots of promises from the Commission to change farming practices in Europe and create a sustainable CAP, agriculture lobby groups and less progressive parts of the Commission, Parliament and Council have managed to delete all initial progress, producing a very weak proposal that continues to give money to farmers without monitoring their impact on the environment.

Mark Driscoll, One Planet Food Lead at WWF-UK, said: “Taxpayers, consumers and the environment in general deserve better. EU governments and the European Parliament must now agree on far more ambitious greening reforms than those set out today, which are not progressive at all.”

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