On September 19, Slow Food and ARC2020 – a platform of over 150 EU civil society networks and organisations – will present the European Parliament with requests for a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that supports family farms, reinvests public money into public goods and rejects food speculation.
The current CAP, The EU’s system of agricultural subsidies and programmes, represents the largest single spending of the EU: about 43% of the total expense, or 55 billion euros per year. These investments, however, have not always had a positive impact: 80% of EU contributions are directed towards just 20% of farmers, and 70% of plant and animal biodiversity has been irreversibly lost. An estimated 250 million people—50% of the whole European population—are overweight, while 42 million are facing malnutrition due to poverty. Furthermore, 90 million tons of food, or 180 kg per person, are thrown away each year.
The direction of the European food and agricultural policy until 2020 is currently being discussed in Brussels. For the first time in its 50-year history, the future of the CAP will be co-decided by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The new involvement of the Parliament gives civil society a real chance to make its voice heard.
At the conference on Wednesday, President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, will be joined by Dacian Cioloş, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development; Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food International; and representatives of other key European civil society organizations who are involved in the CAP reform debate.
“It is necessary to return dignity to farming” said Petrini. “At the moment only 11 million people are working in agriculture, less than 5% of the European population. It is an issue that is crucial to the food security of 27 countries and a question that cannot be left in the hands of a few multinational corporations. The CAP needs to change if we want agriculture to be a viable option for young people, an economic driver for rural communities and an element of safeguard for landscapes and the environment.”
Participants of the Good Food March – farmers, citizens, young people and 100 organizations from 19 countries who journeyed from Munich to Brussels – will also be taking part in the conference, and will have an opportunity to pose their questions to their MEPs. “The Good Food March has seen people from all ages and backgrounds come together from the north, south, east and west of Europe to define the tradition, heritage and future of food and farming in Europe,” said Stephanie Roth, Campaign Coordinator at ARC2020. “It has shown the spirit of people from villages and cities across Europe, embraced the diversity of our food culture and demonstrated the vitality of our countryside. At the same time it has sent a strong and unified message to decision makers as they debate and decide over the future of the CAP. We must bring democracy back to the CAP.”