Agricultural News Round-up

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11 April 2011

Listed below are recent Agricultural news stories and a summary of their key points.

Reforming Direct CAP Payments Post 2013

Managing Food Prices

Importance of Bio-fuels

Prospects for Agricultural Markets and Income 2010 to 2020

News in brief

1) A strong EU farm policy
is essential in the quest to deliver affordable food, the European Parliament has argued. With worldwide demand growing and 16% of EU citizens below the poverty line, access to food is an increasingly important issue.

The future CAP, now being debated by EU institutions, must ensure food security for all citizens, maintain the vitality of rural areas and guarantee food production throughout the EU, MEPs said in a resolution approved in plenary in January.

2) Farm Minister Bruno Le Maire has warned that greater transparency on grain reserves and stocks will be one of the priorities under the French tenure of the G20.

Speaking in Berlin on January 22, Mr Le Maire said the lack of transparency and current information on cereal stocks helped fuel market speculation. A more co-ordinated approach to an early warning system for agriculture, along with WTO instruments to impose sanctions on countries with export restrictions and so-called safety nets for vulnerable sectors would also be high on the priority list, he added.

3) Young farmers and women in agriculture must be supported if farming and the rural economy are to flourish, according to MEPs. Only 7% of EU farmers are under 35 years old, but 4.5 million EU farmers are to retire in the next 10 years. In light of this, MEPs have asked that measures be stepped up to attract young people into farming, such as installation premiums and subsidised interest rates for loans.

A non-legislative report from German MEP Elisabeth Jeggle, Role of Women in Agriculture and Rural Areas, has called on the Commission to find ways of female farmers and rural workers as a way of encouraging sustainable rural development. A plenary vote will take place in April.

4) How to make direct payments fairer to farmers, manage food price crises, and improve rural development policies were the key issues debated in a public hearing held by the Agriculture Committee on January 26.

The public hearing in plenary featured experts and stakeholders giving their opinions with a view to forthcoming legislative proposals on which MEPs have full legislative powers. The issues debated included overhauling the distribution system for financial support, introducing new market management tools and improving rural development policy.

Speaking at the end of the debate, Parliament’s CAP 2020 rapporteur Albert Dess said that the new policy must “ensure a good objective distribution of direct payments”, cut red tape and possess a “great level of flexibility to take into account differences among Member States” and among EU local and regional markets.

5) MEPs have called for the “alarming deficit” in protein stocks to be reduced as part of the CAP reform, using measures such as top-up payments to farmers to encourage production.

The EU’s domestic protein crop production currently supplies only 30% of that required for animal feed use in the EU, and any move to expand the planting of crops such as peas and beans would reduce the dependence on imported protein from areas such as South America and the US. MEPS argued such a move would also deliver environmental benefits.

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