Today marks the publication of the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) legislative proposal, but on May 29-30 in Brussels, over 200 food system actors came together to look beyond the CAP and design a Common Food Policy.
The EU Food and Farming Forum brought together farmer associations, civil society groups, scientists and administrators at local, national and European level, who share a common vision for the future of food and farming.
The EU Food and Farming Forum was organized by IPES-Food, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, and is the culmination of two years of collaborative work with dozens of partner organizations in Brussels and around Europe, including Slow Food, on how to build sustainable food systems in Europe. Using the collective intelligence of farmers, food entrepreneurs, civil society activists, scientists and policymaker, the aim is to design a Common Food Policy and decide what policy reforms are needed, and how to change the way we make policies.
Slow Food founder, Carlo Petrini, was one of the key speakers at the event, which also included French journalist Marie-Monique Robin (author of The World According to Monsanto), the founder of the Transition Movement Rob Hopkins and musician and activist Paul McCartney, who participated via video link.
Why do we need a common food policy?
- Current figures paint a worrying picture concerning the environment, social issues and health of EU citizens:
• In 2010, nearly half of all EU farm holders (48%) were over 55 years old
• Europe loses 970 million tonnes of fertile soil every year
• Between 2003 and 2013, Europe lost 1 out of 4 farm
• More than half of the European population is now overweight or obese.
As it stands, the current food system is not sustainable and is failing to meet the needs of citizens and the environment. Furthermore, current incentives in food systems keep farmers locked into an industrial farming model, leaving few options for small-scale virtuous farmers. For change to happen, we urgently need shifts in food production, processing, retail and consumption to occur at the same time. A Common Food Policy can spark a transition to sustainability in a way that agricultural policies alone cannot. We need policies that not only look at agriculture but consider the food system as a whole: all policies affecting food systems, and all actors along the food chain, need to work together to transition to sustainability. This means aligning policies on agriculture, rural development, environment, trade, health, food safety and development.
Slow Food has been on the forefront of the fight for a better food and farming system in the EU. In conjunction with Friends of the Earth EU, the European Public Health Alliance and IFOAM EU we recently published a policy briefing, based on study commissioned to the University of Pisa which highlighted how current food and farming policies are failing to adequately protect public health and the environment as well as making the farming sector sustainable. The policy brief puts forward a series of recommendations to address these issues and help build a food system that is fit for the future.
Slow Food and other NGOs working on food and farming issues aren’t alone in calling for a new approach to EU food policies: The European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, European Parliament groups, the JRC and dozens of research and advocacy groups are calling for an integrated food policy.
Among participants at EU3F were four active members from the Slow Food network in Europe, who were invited by Slow Food to share their perspective and experiences at the forum: Gillian Rodger, Coordinator of the Slow Food Youth Network in Scotland, Klaus Flesch of Slow Food Germany, Terra Madre Nordic 2018 coordinator Johan Dal, and Slow Food Presidium coordinator Jacopo Goracci. Find out more about their involvement here.
Civil society will unite once again on October 27-28 2018 for the European Days of action for Good Food & Good Farming where thousands of people across the EU will come together to call for policies that defend the interests of people, animals and the environment.