EC outlines future of globalised food ingredients market

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Mariann fischer boel, Agriculture, Common agricultural policy

European agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has outlined
how a future globalised food ingredients market might look.

Speaking at a farming conference in Oxford, UK yesterday, she said that while the CAP (common agricultural policy) has already undergone reform, a major upcoming analysis of what the CAP could look like after 2013 will have significant influence over the direction of European food policy for years to come.

"This will be carried out as part of a general review of the European Union budget,"​ she said.

"This is the political context for further development of the CAP and of a vision for agriculture."

A pivotal principle is that the farming sector of the future must be a competitive farming sector. Boel said that food producers must expect import tariffs to continue to fall over time, and be aware that large, low-cost agricultural exporters are eager to take advantage of this tendency.

"This is not a prophecy of doom,"​ she said.

"In the agrifood sector, we may spend a lot of time worrying about Brazil. But how often do we think about countries such as India, where we tap into only a fraction of the potential demand for wines, spirits and other high-quality goods that we produce so well?"

She argued that Europe should be working hard to pull down the barriers that restrict its presence in such markets. In addition, there are local markets to be cultivated, in which many people will pay more for food and drink that not only has a particular taste but also has fewer "food miles" behind it.

"The CAP of the new century is much more closely geared to helping you in your efforts to be competitive,"​ said Boel.

"This is one of the dividends of decoupling, which allows farmers to tear up their old subsidy calculations and farm whatever will bring the best returns on the market."

Boel also expressed her personal view that quotas stifle competitiveness. "We need to send out clear signals that milk quotas will go in 2015,"​ she said.

"My feeling is that we should move closer to full decoupling for all Member States and all sectors over the next few years, and aim to get there by some point after 2013 at the latest."

The second main principle for the agriculture of the future is that it must be part of the solution, not part of the problem when it comes to environmental issues. Boel said that in this respect as well, the CAP has made big strides forward.

"Farmers now have to respect demanding standards, and through the mechanism of cross-compliance, the direct payments that they receive through the CAP are explicitly linked to the respect of these standards,"​ she said.

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