At the Beyond the CAP forum at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, civil society agreed that the New Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) needs to be brave in order to outpace arising problems and to lead an urgent transition towards a sustainable food system. The biennial Terra Madre event, organized by Slow Food in collaboration with the Region of Piedmont and the City of Turin, has linked with the European Days of Action this year. The movement aims to put pressure on decision-makers and calls for a better CAP. Terra Madre Salone del Gusto takes place in Turin, Italy, from September 20-24.
Criticism Pushing for the New CAP
In recent decades, numbers of farmers and farms have decreased dramatically, and the emphasis on productivity has led to a decline in biodiversity. Intensive agriculture and widespread use of chemicals have had an impact on soil fertility and the environment. The CAP, introduced in 1962, needed to factor in a response to the changes.
Angelo Innamorati from the European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development, who presented the new CAP proposal for the period 2021 – 2027 at the forum, said that the current CAP had to be changed for several reasons: Brexit, which would lead to a loss of 12 billion euros of contributions every year, and the current ecological or ‘greening’ policies, which have been strongly criticized by environmental NGOs as not being effective enough. He emphasized though that the same support structure for farmers will remain “without support for farmers, agricultural activities would not be able to continue.”
The New CAP Remains Limited
The new reform proposed this summer, however, prompted a wave of criticism from civil society. Slow Food has identified key areas of concern in its review on the CAP, which included a decision to delegate the responsibility of deciding the future of European farming to the Member States. Many farmers have also expressed their concerns about the proposed cuts in the new CAP.
Jacopo Goracci, the coordinator of the Slow Food Presidium of the Maremmana Cattle, noted that all new freedoms and flexibilities provided at a national level with the new CAP are frightening. “We do not have certainty, we do not have clear goals, and this is important.” Mr. Goracci emphasized that a transitional model is needed, which would provide farmers “not options but rather guidance and assurance.”
“Slow Food has been calling for a CAP that effectively integrates other food-related policies,” said Nino Pascale, the President of Slow Food Italia, adding that the new CAP still remained disconnected to other policies. Mr. Pascale drew attention to the importance of protecting biodiversity, which lacks endorsement and proper financial support in the new CAP.
Meanwhile, IPES-FOOD presented its work towards a Common Food Policy (CFP) for the EU at the forum. It has been organizing policy labs, which involved different actors – civil society, farmer groups, food industry, scientists and policy-makers. “We wanted to discuss how to reconcile policies in different areas so that a new policy initiative would emerge,” IPES-Food Coordinator Nick Jacobs emphasized. The final report, which originated from local and Brussels based policy labs, will include specific recommendations for a CFP and will be published this November.
EU Parliament Elections Critical for the New CAP
A member of European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development Mauro Zullo expressed his concerns on upcoming European elections, which might have nationalistic tendencies and take some policies in a different direction. “Despite the EU parliamentary level, we cannot rush to obtain concrete results, and it is likely that the next Parliament, next Commission, next Council will go beyond what we have discussed for the new CAP with this mandate.”
The European Commission presented new legislative proposals on the CAP beyond 2020, aiming to modernize and simplify it in June 2018. The new proposals have been largely criticized by non-governmental organizations and the civil society, mainly for lack of an explicitly outlined strategy on how to lead the EU to a real transition towards sustainable food systems. Last year, over 250 thousand Europeans requested the Commission to reform an outdated EU agricultural policy in the EU public consultation.
Indre Anskaityte, Slow Food International