The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) penalises local farmers and harms the environment. It continues to contribute to the injection of palm oil in milk powder, exports of soft wheat to the detriment of local products, as well as to the over-consumption of Latin American soy. EURACTIV France reports.
Supporting European agriculture should not be at the expense of farmers in developing countries. This is the finding of a report published by the NGO network Coordination SUD, which points out the contradictions between the Common Agricultural Policy and the EU’s development objectives.
“There is thus a real contradiction between the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the objective of coherence that European policies must necessarily have with development and the respect for human rights. The CAP to be voted on in February 2020 must urgently rehabilitate this requirement, with force,” explained Philippe Jahshan, president of Coordination SUD.
The EU needs to adopt a new version of the CAP for the 2021-2027 period, although it has already fallen behind schedule. While the EU Commission’s first proposal includes more measures to “green” agricultural aid, the overall framework of the CAP remains unchanged.
And that’s where the problem lies.
Not a very fair competition?
In the context of the report drawn up by the international development NGO GRET on behalf of Coordination SUD, specific tools of the CAP are more or less responsible for the undesirable effects on agriculture in the South.
Under fire are the direct payments that are made to farmers according to the area and “regardless of production type” under the CAP’s first pillar.
“The choice to direct most of the CAP budget towards direct payments, which are subject to very few environmental requirements, has stimulated agricultural production that is intensive in terms of inputs (fertilisers, pesticides, irrigation water) and high-energy concentrated fodder (cereals, silage corn),” the report highlighted.
Agricultural support coming from the EU is essential for European farmers. In France, 47% of the farmers’ income came from the CAP, according to former conservative MEP Michel Dantin.
But this push is having a devastating impact on the southern hemisphere, where government subsidies are not as high, and the sectors are less competitive.
Some European products are therefore becoming more competitive than local production, as in the case of “wheat and milk powder on West African markets”, according to the study.
The report also criticised the abolition of agricultural market regulation mechanisms, such as milk quotas. According to the report, these have increased “the EU’s ability to export agricultural products at low prices to markets in the South”.
“Exports of wheat or milk powder, sometimes even skimmed milk and palm oil blends sold abusively as milk on West African markets is symptomatic. This real dumping destabilises rural economies. In West Africa, for example, these imported powders are returned to processors at up to 40% less cost than local milk. They, therefore, prefer to buy these powders rather than invest in the development of local milk collection networks,” Laurent Levard of GRET pointed out.
The report also proposed transforming per-hectare-subsidies to “subsidies designed to achieve an agroecological transition for the agricultural sector”, as well as reactivating regulatory mechanisms.
Impact of the CAP on deforestation
The issue of the intensive livestock farming model is also considered responsible for other devastating side-effects.
“It is partly responsible for the expansion of the soybean model in South America,” the report emphasised. Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay today account for around 50.6% of the world soybean production.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]