UK - The reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy have been based on a new market orientation, sustainability and public and private input across the policy, writes Chris Harris from the Oxford Farming Conference.
European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos told the Oxford Farming Conference that the reforms could not just address the question of price but also had to engage with the market orientation and the limited resources available to ensure sustainability.
“We need market orientation and sustainability, which is mostly not remunerated by the market, and responsibility to be taken by the main actors both public and private,” Mr Ciolos said.
He said that by introducing the greening aspects of the CAP reforms the European Union has introduced sustainability into the reforms.
Biodiversity and water quality and quantity are all elements of agricultural production.
“Biodiversity, soil fertility, water are all public goods,” he said.
“The maintenance of natural resources is of global interest, not just for farmers.”
Mr Ciolos said that the reforms have also reduced the intervention of public authorities in agricultural management.
He said that direct payments to farmers are now better targeted and there are new instruments in place to deal with the problems of generation changes among the farming communities.
He said the reforms had to take into account the fact that the common market consists of half a billion consumers from now 28 different countries each with different sizes of farms and different farming practices.
“We have taken an important step to decouple payments and in the next years we can see how to make the direct payments more relevant,” said Mr Ciolos.
He said that coupled payments that exist at the present time had always existed but that they are now more transparent.
Mr Ciolos added that the CAP is maintaining the differences and the competitiveness of the farming sector across Europe. While there are common rules the differences in farming are maintained.
He said that trade is an essential part in the development of the farming sector across Europe and new free trade agreements including the one being negotiated between Europe and the US will help to build on the current level of exports.
“Free trade agreements will create new opportunities for the farming sector,” he said.
To this end he said that the commission is investing in promoting European foods with the promotion budget of €60 million now increased to €200 million.