Regional ARC conference in Aachen, Germany

The conference was organised and coordinated by the EMB-European Milk Board, the Koordination der Deutschen Verbände-Plattform zur GAP (Coordination of German organisations-Platform for the CAP) and the ARC-office.

The aim of the conference, a “regional ARC-conference”, was to present the ARC process in detail to German organisations and to prepare a joint contribution to the ARC process.

Reinhild Benning (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland BUND and Friends of the Earth, Berlin, Germany), Samuel Féret (Le groupe Pac 2013, Paris), Hans Foldenauer (Bundesverband Deutscher Milchviehhalter BDM, Freising), Julia Frenzel (MEG Milch Board, Göttingen), Friedrich Wilhelm Graefe zu Baringdorf (AbL, Hamm), Benny Haerlin (Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft, Berlin), Stephanie Heikamp (EMB, Hamm), Bruno Horrichs (AbL, BDM), Ulrich Jasper (Koordination der Deutschen Verbände-Plattform [mit Lutz Ribbe/EuroNatur zusammen, s.u.] und AbL, Hamm), Sieta van Keimpema (EMB, Netherlands), Sonja Korspeter (EMB, Hamm), Kerstin Lanje (Misereor, Aachen), Hannes Lorenzen (ARC, Brussels), Lutz Ribbe (Koordination der Deutschen Verbände-Plattform [mit U. Jasper/AbL zusammen, s.o.] und EuroNatur, Rheinbach/Bonn), Romuald Schaber (EMB und BMD), Willem Smeenk (EMB und Organisation des Producteurs de Lait OPL, France)

Contribution of the regional ARC-conference to the ARC-process

Basic principles

The task of the Common Agricultural Policy is to make sure that the entire society benefits from agriculture, food industry, retail and rural development.

The CAP is not a policy for the agricultural industry but is at the very heart of many questions concerning the future of our society. Agriculture and food industry touch upon essential elements of civilisation such as climate, water and biodiversity. The CAP has to take preventive measures as to make sure that resources –at the local, regional and global level – are not pushed beyond their limits. And even more so: the CAP has to unleash the potential of certain forms of agriculture to regenerate resources and to increase their capacity. This applies to environment and above all the fight against hunger worldwide that depend on a strengthening of rural agriculture at a local level and the development of local and regional markets.

The market forces alone cannot meet these requirements. Wherever the market offers no or wrong incentives, an active policy is required.

The CAP needs to undergo a fundamental reform, so that agriculture and food industry are no longer part of many problems, but an active part of the solution of the problems.

The right to food requires a different CAP

The United Nations have recognized the individual right to food for all human beings. This right has to be enforced. Therefore a CAP is required that is consistent with the millennium goals. It has to respect and to support the sovereignty of states to ensure a sufficient and high-quality food supply of the entire population.  Food sovereignty is more important than the export interests of the European Union and other exporting agricultural regions.

Food sovereignty also includes the right of states to a qualified market access that also links the international trade to social and ecological aims.

The international implementation of the right to food requires that the EU reduces its worldwide use of agricultural areas drastically (today 34 million acres outside of the EU, i.e. twice the agricultural area of Germany) A European protein strategy is thus needed that would reduce the demand for protein feed drastically. This is not only about substituting imports with legumes cultivated in the EU. It is also necessary to do without a mass export of dairy products and meat products.

Shaping markets according to aims of the society

Effective guidelines that apply to all market powers are required to make sure that markets support the ecological and social aims of the society.

Markets have to be shaped so that

  • market participants respect the limits of an ecologically accepted use of resources,
  • different, often contradictory, interests of market participants are negotiated in a fair, i.e. equal, manner,
  • producers and consumers are no longer the pawn of other interests, but can actively co-decide.

The limits of resources and of the capacity of human beings, animals and the environment justify the implementation of a limitation of the produced volume.

Food is essential so that it should not become subject of speculations at the stock market. The best way to counter speculations is to avoid strong volatilities ranging from too little to too much, that means from excess to shortage. The EU has to do its part as well.  Under this premise a supply structure that is controlled by society is therefore justified and even advisable. Here too applies that all stakeholders – from producers to consumers and development aid politics – have to have their say. Therefore solid and responsible structures (such as a monitoring agency where all interests are represented) are required.

Fair negotiations along the food chain require a balance of power at the different levels of the food chain.  The currently weakest members of this chain – agricultural producers and consumers – have to be strengthened structurally. They have to be enabled to bundle themselves (for instance as transnational producer organisations or consumer organisations) and granted the right to manage the supply autonomously, but controlled by society.

Using financial means in a positive and focused way

The financial means of the CAP have to be used in a way that they have a positive ecological and social effect: at a regional, European but also at an international level. The services of farmers that are needed and also promoted by society have to be worth it in financial terms. Payments have therefore to be tied in with the performance of concrete services. This holds especially true for requirements such as climate protection (for example extended crop rotation, preservation of grassland, and formation of humus in the ground), preservation of biodiversity (extended crop rotation, preservation of grassland and ecologically important structural elements or agricultural environmental measures), appropriate nutrients balance and animal welfare.

Direct payments to agricultural enterprises have to be differentiated according to their labour intensity so that farms are no longer disadvantaged that generate employment and income for relatively many people with regard to their surface. When it comes to agricultural exports this differentiation also reduces the dumping effect of these payments.

Export subsidies have to be abolished with immediate effect and once and for all.

The intervention with prices (purchase and storage by the EU) as part of the market regulation, that are far below the production costs, is no safety net for producers that manage their farms according to sustainable principles. The function of this intervention is to keep prices for raw materials for the (exporting) agricultural industry at the lowest level possible. That is why it has to be abolished.