Food policy and agriculture in Europe are intimately tied, so Dr. Franz Fischler, Member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries European Agriculture stressed this week at a conference in Brussels.
The food chain is as vulnerable as its weakest link. It is therefore inevitable that we have to opt for an integrated approach towards agriculture and food: from stable to table, or from farm to fork."
Agriculture cannot be separated from food policy and vice versa. Modern agriculture has to be demand oriented and meet the expectations of consumers and citizens alike.
Fischler noted that European citizens and consumers appear to have different ideas on what kind of food they want to eat and how they want their food to be produced. However he remarked that they all agree in their demand for safe food, quality standards in tastiness and agricultural production methods, and respect for environmental standards.
Commenting on the recent WTO trade Round in Doha, Quatar, he claimed it was a success and referring to the sensitive issue of the export subsidies in Europe he said: "This clarifies beyond doubt that there is no commitment now to negotiate the elimination of export subsidies. On domestic support, the Declaration commits us to negotiating reductions in trade distorting supports, which we also accept (as we proposed) further cuts in the "amber box" whilst keeping the concepts of the "green" and "blue" boxes.
This is what we need to ensure that our farmers can meet more and more the wider needs of our society by providing for the stewardship of the countryside, the protection of the environment in rural areas and the vitality of the countryside."
Fischler was also keen to point out that another "positive aspect of the deal is that we will now negotiate on geographical indications with a view to protecting quality products, ranging from Indian "Basmati" rice to Italian "Parmigiano" cheese from being pirated in other WTO-countries."
Fischler was speaking at the European Voice conference entitled, "Farm to fork: the future of food policy " that took place in Brussels this week.