European and Belgian Civil Society Organizations ask the European Union to Reshape the CAP

The undersigned European and Belgian organizations, all part of the group of 335 organizations that signed the European Food declaration published last March, jointly request the EU Ministers for agriculture and Commissioner Ciolos who are meeting in La Hulpe to discuss the future of the CAP, to definitively address the challenges and demands placed on both consumers and farmers at European and Global level.

The European Food Declaration proposes 12 clear principles for a new Common Agriculture and Food Policy. What would a new CAFP based on these principles look like? What are the key issues the EU needs to confront ?

1. Food security at both European and global level: regulation not speculation

The present CAP has been excessively shaped by international trade rules that treat agricultural produce as mere commodities. This approach has failed: global food insecurity has continued to grow and the EU is increasingly dependent on imports/exports. A new phase of global food speculation demonstrates that regulation is required to stop speculation on food on the commodities markets. We need food sovereignty: the CAP has to be based on European needs, not on WTO rules.

The EU and third countries should prioritize feeding their own citizens. To successfully achieve this, we are proposing a new approach to trade, that combines duty and rights.

  • The duty not to export products at prices below the production costs of the exporting country,-
  • The right to decide to implement tariffs should the price of imported products fall below the production costs of the importing country-

This must be considered as a minimum condition for achieving food security in Europe and third countries that also ensures the survival of farming communities – an essential aspect, given the multifunctionality of agriculture. In Europe this should include tariffs on animal feedstuffs, the production of which should be re-localized in Europe .

2. Farm income: fair prices first

The majority of farmer’s income should be generated by fair market prices paid for their agricultural production and not from subsidies, as is now the case. This is a necessary step to ensure the long-term viability of family farms. Aligning EU prices on the global ones, makes this impossible for European farmers to be fairly paid for their produce , as European production costs are higher than those of many third countries .

In order to achieve fair and stable farm prices, we need to:

  • Introduce supply management and market regulation instruments to avoid structural surpluses or shortages triggering price volatility-
  • Avoid low-cost imports (see above)-
  • Do away with the over-intensification of production.-

Direct income payments should be then orientated towards sustainable family farming, with emphasis on:

  • Farms in less favoured areas because of their higher production costs,
  • Small-scale farms, that are unable to produce enough to make a living from the market, but whose multifunctional role in the countryside makes an important contribution.-

3. Environment , climate, animal welfare

  • All farms should comply with standards involving less use of energy, chemical inputs and water, lower carbon emissions, protection of biodiversity and health and compliance with good animal welfare standards.-
  • Farms that respect significantly higher standards than the above should receive direct incentive payments.-
  • To reduce the contribution of farming to global warming, reduce energy consumption on farms, respect the environment and stop the loss of agro- and wild biodiversity, the current dominant modes of production need to be changed. For example, the use of nitrate-based fertilizers should be reduced by rotation using leguminous crops. Cattle for beef and milk production should be put out to pastures again, whose soil stocks carbon. Organic farming should be promoted. There should be support for converting to well managed extensive systems of production for pigs and poultry, such as barn with outdoor access or free-range systems.-
  • It is essential to regain self sufficiency in plant protein production; animal factory farming should progressively be abandoned.-
  • The promotion, the use and the production of industrial agrofuels must be stopped.The EU should prioritise reducing transport and food-miles in general.-

4. Quality healthy food

Demand for local, quality food of high nutritional value, produced with high standards of production could be increased by supporting schemes for catering that is sourced from local / seasonal / organic produce.

5. A rural development policy is required to complete these measures

It should include the following priorities:

  • Rural employment schemes: support for small-scale processing industries, support for direct marketing and local food systems and the diversification of local economy,--
  • Development of rural public services-

6. Young farmers, access to land

European and national measures are needed to facilitate access to land for new generations of farmers. EU Treaties should be revisited regarding land policies and foreign investment. Standards for establishing farms should be reorientated towards sustainable small/middle size farms that focusing essentially on local/regional trade. Curricula in agricultural colleges also needs to be modified to take all of the above aspects into consideration.

7. Farm workers

Each Member State should establish a minimum agriculture wage, including in Central and Eastern Europe. Migrant and European farm workers should have the same rights as those of the host country in which they are resident.

8. Food chain

Fair distribution and increased transparency of the different stages of the added value along the food chain is urgently needed. Improvements to the value added along the food chain would benefit both farmers and consumers.


04 Oct 2010


European and Belgian Civil Society Organisations