Dear friends and supporters of ARC

Welcome to the latest issue of the ARC NEWSFLASH! 

March has seen a number of fantastic guest blogs be submitted to us from across the globe. Sophie Herbert, EU nature Policy officer at BirdLife Europe provided an article about EU environment ministers failing to stand up for nature in the face of farm lobby interests. This was followed by an article from the RSPB about a group of farmers that travelled to Brussels to call for greater support for environmental measures in the CAP. Véronique Rioufol from Terre de Liens raised the issue of land access, whilst our partners at the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy  in the US provided us with an insight into controlling crop price volatility. If you want to write a piece for our site, simply send your article to the email address below.

This month ARC2020 also issued a press release with BirdLife Europe, The European Environmental Bureau, WWF, IFOAM EU Group, Friends of the Earth Europe and Pesticide Action Network following the decision of the EU Commission’s health and consumers department to remove the obligation on countries and farmers to contain the spread of a highly destructive maize pest – Diabrotica virgifera virgifera. The common message warned that the move is likely to lead to a massive increase in pesticide use unless the simple agronomic practice of crop rotation is implemented as a countermeasure. ARC2020 was also a co-signatory of a joint statement of ECVCConcord and other European and national civil society associations on the International responsibility of the CAP.

Finally, preparations are now well under way now for the 6th European Organic Conference for which ARC2020 is a Congress partner. You can learn more about the event, which will be taking place in Copenhagen on April 16th and 17th in an interview with Christopher Stopes, President of the IFOAM EU GROUP below and register online today!

Spring Greetings,

Kate Mann

Last month in Brussels

On 19th and 20th March, the EU Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (COMAGRI) met in Brussels. Topics for discussion included direct payments to farmers under support schemes within the framework of the CAP, the EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015 and common organisation of the markets in agricultural products (Single CMO Regulation). Find the agenda here. The Committee met again on March 27th. This meeting included a workshop on ‘Adressing market volatility: CMO mechanisms and risk management tools in the new CAP’ and a discusison on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Agenda here. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council also met on the 19th and 20th March, you can find details on this in the next section. March 20th also saw an event organised by the European Economic and Social Committee marking the 50th Anniversary of the CAP. On the same day, Paolo de Castro,chair of COMAGRI received a visit from Belgium-based NGO Wervel, who presented him with a letter about the protein deficit and the CAP. On March 26th the Committee of the Regions presented a report on CAP reform, which was adopted by an overwhelming majority by the NAT commission.

Find out about all the latest developments in Brussels here.

March Agriculture and Fisheries Council

On 19th and 20th March, farm ministers from across Europe met for an exchange of views on the simplication of the CAP. Prior to the debate, the Danish Presidency asked the Member States to contribute concrete proposals on how to reduce red tape. So far 300 pages of proposals have been received. Council president, Mette Gjerskov highlighted three justifications for the simplication: Firstly, farmers need a reduced bureaucratic burden. Secondly, Member States do not have the financial means to implement the associated administrative costs. And finally, in order to ensure legal certainty, it is essential that everyone involved understands what is required.

The Commission’s proposal for the European Innovation Partnership were also debated at the Council meeting. In terms of agriculture, the two main objectives are to improve agricultural productivity towards 2020 and ensure the quality of the arable land and its ability of adapting to climate change. The next step, following a debate in the European Parliament, will be the preparation of an implementation plan for the Partnerships.

Find more information in an EU press release and videos.

Upcoming public events

Valuing Ecosystems: Policy, Economic and Management Interactions

12.04.2012 – 15.04.2012
Slow Food Markt des guten Geschmacks

17-18.04. 2012
6th European Organic Congress

18.04.2012 – 22.04. 2012
Forum Synergies Workhop: Sustainable Development in Lake Areas
Val de Drugeon

Find all events here

Interview with…

Christopher Stopes – President of the IFOAM EU Group

“In the current CAP reform debate the IFOAM EU Group is making very similar demands to those they made in 2002: to raise the level of sustainability for all farmers, to support the delivery of specific public goods, and to further promote and strengthen organic farming as a proven, certifiable food and farming system that addresses a broad range of sustainability issues.”

Find the full interview here

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