Putting the “Common” Back in the CAP

Slow Food International President Carlo Petrini last week urged for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to become a shared priority for all of society, with essential changes at the roots of the system. Petrini was speaking at the international conference “The CAP Affects Us,” held in Milan last week, organized by Slow Food, Legambiente Lombardia, the European Green Party and Italian Association for Organic Agriculture. The fate of the CAP, the European Union’s system of agricultural subsidies and programmes due for reform in 2013, was the centre of focus during the event which brought together a number of concerned groups and experts.

Petrini was joined by joined José Bové, French farmer, activist and vice president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. During their debate, the pair identified the main points on which the new CAP should focus to become a truly innovative policy and be able to turn around the fate of European agriculture. These included the review of the levy system, strengthening the support of small farming communities and a new pricing policy that ensures a fair income for farmers.

“The concern is not just to create a new CAP, but to change the system at its roots,” said Petrini. “The situation has reached catastrophic levels from a political, economic, and cultural point of view in Europe and in Italy, where thousands of small businesses continue to close with total indifference from the political world. It is essential that agricultural policy is no longer considered only at the sectorial level, but takes a more complex vision, integrating issues related to environment and nutrition and becoming a shared priority at all levels of society. It must therefore abandon those liberal principles that have clearly led to its failure.”

“The other principle that this new policy must assert is food sovereignty for all people,” Petrini continued. “Every community should have the right to choose what to produce without being subjected to external influences dictated by international markets. I would like that this occasion marks the beginning of a major campaign to raise awareness on these issues and helps those communities that carry out sustainable practices but do not receive the right support.”

On the topic of food sovereignty, Bové added: “We must ensure that the right to food sovereignty is recognized by the United Nations and subsequently is included in the main economic treaties. If rural communities do not have the chance to take hold of their destiny, then the situation cannot improve. We must fight to ensure that agricultural products are no longer sold below the production price, and that the work of farmers is recognized and legitimized. To do this, civil society needs to stand beside them to influence the social and political scene. Unfortunately, too many agriculture ministers and Members of European Parliament are opposed to…a reform of the CAP in this sense. We need a mobilization of citizens to increase the pressure on these political actors. ”

Read more about CAP on the Slow Food website.

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