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Sunday, March 26, 2017
CAFOD says proposed EU agricultural reform 'desperately needed'
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¬†Catholic aid agency CAFOD has welcomed proposals in a new report by EU Commissioner for Agriculture Franz Fischler, calling for a radical overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The agency says the proposed move away from production-linked subsidies for EU farmers will go some way in reducing the damage CAP presently does to developing countries. CAFOD's CAP Policy Analyst Matt Griffith said: "These proposed reforms cannot come too soon. The CAP isn't working for consumers, for EU farmers, for the environment, and certainly not for farmers in developing countries: they are hit by a double whammy - cheap food dumped in their home markets by the EU's massively subsidised farmers and exporters and unfair competition in their export markets, most of all in Europe. "At the World Trade Organisation meeting last November in Doha, the EU pledged to phase out all forms of export subsidies and to make substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support. Fischler's proposals are a step in the right direction. There is a clear danger, however, that powerful agricultural interests, especially in southern Europe and Ireland, will water down these proposals in order to hang on to the subsidies that do so much damage in developing countries. "CAFOD wants big cuts in the money spent by the EU in boosting the production of food that nobody wants - and a clear timetable for achieving them. As things stand, the average European cow receives more money in subsidies than the half of the world's population that has to live on £1.30 a day - or less. "CAP contributes to the scandal of poverty in a world where 800 million people go hungry. Its reform is long overdue. Fischler's proposals hold out the possibility of a genuine win-win for farming, the environment, consumers and poor countries. Europe must give strong leadership on this issue, and not bow to wealthy vested interests." Farmers and farm workers represent only one per cent of the working population in the UK, the lowest in the EU. Greece, with 20 per cent, has the highest proportion of the working population in agriculture; then comes Spain with 10 per cent. All other countries are in single figures. For some African countries this proportion can be as high as 80 per cent. "Subsidies to this minority group are stifling the development prospects of the poor majority all over the developing world," said Griffith.
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