NewsFlash April-May 2015


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Hi there, from Oliver and Luise of Arc2020.

Welcome to our April newsletter.

It’s good to remember that, sometimes, the good guys actually do win. Sometimes, campaigning, agitation, mobilisation and informed conversation can actually make a difference. 

Well, after many months of dedicated work by groups like Arche-Noah and Save Our Seeds, “Smarter Rules for Safer Food”, the proposed EU Seed Regulation, was withdrawn. You can read all about it here.

In fact, this wasn’t the only victory we reported on in March. A mega farm in the UK called Foston was blocked too.

Other issues we’ve worked on for a long time now are also gaining traction – pesticides and TTIP.

You can read Julia Sievers’s guest piece on glyphosate, which really crystallised the arguments in what were in fact the days prior to the media noticing what Julia already had  – that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found that the pesticide “probably causes cancer”. Julia’s piece however, gives lots more really pertinent information too.

With TTIP, it is fast emerging that even mainstream framing organisations are now really concerned. They are beginning to see through the spin and now know that TTIP has the potential to radically adjust farming and food in Europe. And this adjustment is not likely to be the kind that’s good for people or the countryside.

You’ll find some interesting thought pieces elsewhere in this newsletter, on CAP simplification and on power in the agri-food chain.

Here’s some more of the month’s highlights too.

Some progress on food waste in the UK

Keep it local: Romanian pharma sector’s land grab in Bulgaria

20,000+ march in London against climate change

Denmark’s ambitious Organic Plan

UK government reverts to paper for basic payments

Challenges & opportunities of moving agroecology east

Why not get involved. We’re very active on twitter and facebook drop by for a chat or to keep informed our issues we focus on. You can help us work on agri-food policy by contributing to the development of our roadmap towards a better, more coherent agri-food vision for Europe 

Happy reading – and campaigning!

Dr. Oliver Moore – 
Communications Manager

Luise Körner –
Communications team

The great CAP 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 Dūklavs 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”

But is it about simplification at all, or have the business-as-usual brigade simply got another tool to simply try to drop all the most people and planet friendly aspects of the CAP? Are there other ways to make things simpler? 

 Read on and find out…

Where does power reside in food?

“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? Very specifically, he is saying that the Commission’s use of Eurostat figures is wrong. More here




Peasant. Not a bad word – but what does it mean?

The word “peasant” is used in all sorts of ways to mean different things by many groups of people across the world. It is indeed very hard to define. This is particularly problematic due to the fact that the majority of decision-makers related to establishing agricultural policy at the national, EU and global levels don’t have an accepted reference point for understanding one another in a basic sense. More

Berlin, Germany GMO-free Europe – Future Opportunities and Challenges

Berlin Representation of the State North Rhine-Westphalia

Date: 06 May 2015 until 08 May 2015 
Time: 10:00 – 18:00



Watch lots of short fun video animations about CAP and agroecology 

Like the one about the Sinni Valley Signora Pear, as illustrated above….
There’s are lots more, which represent best practice from around Europe – the Baltic region, the UK, Ireland and Romania…enjoy!

Copyright 2015 Agricultural and Rural Convention (ARC 2020), All rights reserved.

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