FOOD SECURITY SPECIAL SECTION
“The next step in the CAP reform process is an opportunity to meet the global challenges that lie ahead”
As well as a devastating economic crisis, the world is undergoing intense change on global food markets. Recently developed countries are becoming the main drivers of economic and demographic growth, with inevitable consequences for supply and demand in agricultural products.
Food security is also becoming a central question on the global political agenda, with concern focused on two main issues: first, the quantity of food that will be needed to feed the 9bn global population forecast for 2050 and, second, the impact of changing diets among the burgeoning middle classes in recently developed countries. The main problem here is the increased environmental impact of meat production to satisfy their demand for a higher protein diet. There are in addition worries about growing competition between food and non-food production, the "financialisation" of agricultural commodities markets and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events.
Against such a tumultuous background, European agriculture clearly has a crucial role to play in securing global food supplies. That is partly because the connections between the Common Agricultural Policy and environmental safeguards are already well-established, as are policies that promote social cohesion in marginal rural areas. EU food policies also ensure high production standards, not only in terms of food safety and quality for the consumer but also the welfare of EU livestock.
The next step in the CAP reform process is an opportunity to meet the global challenges that lie ahead. What we need is a modern agricultural policy, one that is able to promote the delivery of public goods, such as food security and a clean environment, while also creating the conditions that will allow farmers to produce more food, and manage the new set of risks they face, without distorting the markets. It is a task neatly summed up in the phrase, ‘To produce more, polluting less’. Building this new agricultural policy will require policymakers to take into account both the environmental sustainability and economic viability of food production, as well as placing an equal emphasis on the delivery of public goods and the entrepreneurial risks that agriculture increasingly runs.
Paolo De Castro MEP is the Chair of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee