Latest from Brussels

TTIP: “very negative impacts” says Irish Farmers Association

As EU Trade Commissioner Cecile Malmstrom visited Ireland last Friday, The Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Ireland’s largest farming organisation, has expressed serious concerns about the transatlantic trade and investment partnership, TTIP. The organisation made reference to newly published Copenhagen Economics report, commissioned by the Irish government, which identifies, in the words of IFA President Eddie Downey “very negative impacts for Ireland’s vital beef sector”. According to the IFA “following a meeting yesterday with the authors of the report, both Copenhagen Economics and officials from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment accepted that TTIP presented very significant risks to both our beef and white meats sector.” Beef is the largest agri-food sector in Ireland, employing over 70,000. The Copenhagen Economics report was commissioned to assess the potential impacts of TTIP on Ireland. While positive on potential jobs growth, citing up to 10,000 new jobs for Ireland, it also predicts that the Irish beef sector will be badly hit by TTIP. The IFA’s new position paper on TTIP says “as a fundamental principle, EU negotiators must insist on equivalence of standards. […]

Latest from EU Member States

Challenges & opportunities of moving agroecology east

  Written By: Stella Beghini, Agrobiodiversity Campaign Intern for Eco Ruralis  At the recent International Forum on Agroecology held in Mali, delegates of peasants and many other groups from all over the world strongly addressed the roots of the crisis concerning our natural and social systems. They claimed agroecology as the real solution to reach environmental justice. The challenges and opportunities of how agroecology can be achieved in Eastern Europe is essential to growing this international movement. The NyĂ©lĂ©ni Center in the Malian village of SĂ©linguĂ© held its first Forum in 2007 where food sovereignty was first conceptualized as a holistic approach and vision to agrarian justice. Fast forward to 2015, another meeting of diverse and united groups of peasants, indigenous people, fisherman, agricultural workers and others was held to work on reaffirming agroecology as the solution to mend our broken food and social systems. The delegates pointed out the many challenges that peasants around the world are facing nowadays: the loss of control over natural resources, land and whole knowledge systems that are the basis of our traditions and […]

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The Great Simplification Scam

Simplification of the CAP is a hot topic at the moment, and will be until at least May. At the most recent Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting (19/03/2015) “ministers exchanged views on their experiences in the implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The most important issues highlighted as needing simplification in direct payments were the ‘greening’ measures and the controls.” Minister Jānis DĆ«klavs recalled that “member states supported the efforts of Presidency to agree Council conclusions on CAP simplification in May. Some of the issues raised by the member states require urgent attention as rules will have to apply on the ground already this spring. There are some areas where simplification might be possible through minor amendments to the existing provisions established by the Commission” The momentum for simplification comes from the Commissioner Hogan, who emphasised it in a December speech: “We need to simplify our rules now and cut red tape in an effective way” he said, promising to have made progress within a year. In this speech he asked for submissions on […]

Main stories

UK government reverts to paper for basic payments

With just seven weeks to go before the May 15 deadline for applications under the Basic Payments Scheme (BPS) the UK government has climbed down from its dogmatic commitment to digital by default. The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) will still require farmers to register online, but is making preparations to input data from paper forms. RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw welcomed the possibility of more time for BPS claims, with the European Commission’s offer of an extended deadline of June 15. This was made by European agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan. According to the RPA, “over 80%” of English farms have registered. Meanwhile, the RPA is providing mobile units to reach isolated farmers, in addition to its 50-strong network of drop-in centres. Around 15,000 eligible farmers still need to register. Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA) chief executive George Dunn expressed his relief that “DEFRA has at last accepted the need to abandon its plans for online only applications,” adding that “…the RPA has been left to pick up the pieces.” During the past few weeks, his membership […]

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Glyphosate: EU approval process seriously questioned

Guest opinion piece by Julia Sievers -of Agrarkoordination. This year, the EU will decide whether glyphosate – the best-selling pesticide worldwide – remains approved after 2015 for another 10 years. As a basis for this decision, German authorities – on behalf of the EU – have re-examined the risks of this pesticide. The German authorities argue in their assessment report that glyphosate is not dangerous and recommend a re-authorization. But the official assessment is extremely controversial. A fundamental problem is that the judgement of the authorities is based almost exclusively on studies of companies that produce their own glyphosate-based pesticides and therefore have a high self-interest in positive study results. In contrast to the assessment of the authorities and the industry studies, numerous studies of industry-independent scientists have give rise to more and more doubts about the safety of glyphosate and glyphosate-based pesticide. In addition to the adverse impacts on biodiversity, water, soil and some animal species, public attention has been paid to the health risks of the herbicide. There is scientific evidence, that Glyphosate causes cancer, […]

Recent updates

Do the stats show that farmers are loosing power? maybe not.

“Ms McGuinness’s press release should have congratulated farmers on increasing their share of consumer spending over this period, rather than arguing that their share has been decreasing.” So says Professor Alan Matthews, in a new post on his CAPreform blog. The context for this claim was the use by MEP Mairead McGuinness of EU Commission stats to suggest that farmer/producer power, as expressed through share of  consumer price, is declining in the face of increasing power from further up the food chain, namely retailers. According to the Irish Times, Mairead Mcguinness said “The 2011 figures compiled by Eurostat show that farmers receive 21 per cent, the food industry gets 28 per cent and the remainder, 51 per cent, goes to food retail and food services. Receiving slightly more than one-fifth of the price consumers pay for food is an insufficient share for those who provide the lion’s share of the input. Farmers invest the greatest effort and time of all stakeholders in the food chain and also carry the greatest risks, including weather impacts.” So what is Alan Matthews saying? […]

Recent updates

20,000+ march in London against climate change

More than 20,000 climate change activists marched through central London on March 7, demanding a resolution of the international political logjam that is preventing world leaders from taking positive action on global warming. Thousands of UK demonstrators streamed down Whitehall waving flags, banners and placards, passing the security-fenced entrance to Downing Street. A phalanx of cyclists followed an elaborate winged bicycle bearing the message “Love your Mum” and cartoon images of an overheating globe with a thermometer in its mouth. On an unseasonally warm and sunny spring afternoon, the crowds brought an urgent message to Parliament Square that very few of UK politicians want to hear: climate change is already upon us. Speaking at the end of the march, Green MP Caroline Lucas made the point very forcefully: “The politicians in there are afraid,” she told the throng. “They are afraid because they don’t know what to do.” More to the point, industrial agriculture is a source of greenhouse gases (GHGs) at a time when farming should be part of the solution. The idea is […]

Newsflash

ARC NEWSFLASH March 2015

ARC NEWSFLASH March 2015 Hello from Oliver and Luise, Arc2020’s Communication team! Welcome to our March newsletter. We’re still full of enthusiasm after meeting up with almost 200 other civil society activists at our Good Food, Good Farming conference in Brussels. People from dozens of food and farming NGOs, as well as farmers, policy makers, academics and concerned citizens, all converged on the Belgian capital last month to tackle the question: how do we fix our broken food system? The aim of the event was to develop a roadmap for a common food policy. You can contribute to this process by going to our roadmap page and giving us your thoughts. The conference link takes you to a great 5 minute video overview, as well as some fantastic graphic harvesting art from the event itself, and lots more. Well worth a visit. We’re also running a Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and agroecology project, and have published a brochure outlining ten of the best examples of ‘transitioning towards agroecology’ around the EU. North, south east, and west of the Continent are all covered, as are many agri-food […]