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Professor Dwyer leads discussion at International conference
Professor Janet Dwyer (pictured right) took on the role of leading the discussion on 21 May for a lecture delivered by Professor Allan Buckwell to an audience in Paris, hosted by the Societe Francaise d'Economie Rural.
The title of Professor Buckwell’s presentation was 'Public goods and the reform of the CAP'. In it, he reflected upon the origins of the concept of public goods within the long history of CAP reform and made an evaluation of its status currently, within the negotiations on the package which is due for agreement this summer. The audience for the seminar included key French rural policy academics, policy officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, independent experts and representatives from farming and environmental NGOs.
Janet's response to Professor Buckwell’s talk highlighted the international dimension influencing the adoption of public goods as a concept (driven by both the World Trade agenda and the OECD), and drew attention to the way in which the enlargement of the EU from 15 to 27 Members has significantly altered the balance of attitudes and experience of the CAP's two pillars, within the Union. In this context, the new Member States' reluctance to accept the concept of 'greening' farm subsidies can be seen as a reflection of the huge 'delivery challenge' that their public administrators have faced, in implementing the numerous, detailed and sometimes complex provisions of the policy. With both environmental and farming lobbies in the old Member States finding fault with the 'one size fits all' approach to greening being put forward by the Commission, the outlook for real progress on this front appears bleak, Professors Buckwell and Dwyer agreed.
The seminar was organised under the auspices of the 'Bippop' project, funded by the French government and led by researchers in Dijon and Paris. Janet has been acting as an external expert on the project's steering committee since 2011 and CCRI has hosted three visiting research students working on the project.
CCRI’s Matt Reed is chairing a key seminar for scientists and policy makers entitled ‘Sustainable Intensification: the future of farming in Europe?’. The seminar forms part of the Royal Society's regular 'policy labs' series.
The event takes place on Thursday 9 May at The Marble Hall/Kohn Centre, The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London.
The term ‘sustainable intensification’ is gaining increasing political momentum since it first appeared in the Royal Society’s ‘Reaping the Benefits’ report, The following year the Government Office for Science adopted the term extensively in their ‘Future of Food and Farming’ report.
In light of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms due later this year, ‘sustainable intensification’ has become an important buzzword. ‘Sustainable intensification’ can be defined as producing more output from the same area of land while reducing the negative environmental impacts and at the same time increasing contributions to natural capital and the flow of environmental services.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms are due January 1st, 2014, and are already causing considerable controversy over plans to reward environmental services and biodiversity conservation within agricultural practice. There is also talk to reduce CAP subsidies for ‘industrial agriculture’, to make EU farming less dependent on subsidies and more competitive internationally (in light of increasingly open global food markets). Subsidies should be reserved for those in disadvantaged areas, used to stabilise a volatile market and reward the provision of public goods.
Many argue that CAP should maintain in its current direction and that only minor reforms are required. Whereas others see this as an opportunity to re-focus the direction of CAP towards linking production and compensation with the delivery of public goods, such as environmental services.
With all this in mind, the panel will be addressing the following questions:
• What is sustainable intensification?
• What is required from the CAP reform to make sustainable intensification economically viable?
• Do environmental services and biodiversity have a place in farming policy?
• Does it represent an attractive source of income and lifestyle choice for farmers?
• Will it work in the UK?
• Can sustainable intensification work within the Common Agricultural Policy?
Another participant from the CCRI is its co-director, Professor Janet Dwyer, who will be introducing the CAP reform from an EU perspective, looking at current proposals and considering what this could mean for farmers across Europe, with a focus on sustainable intensification and economic aspects.
Other speakers include David Baulcombe, Regius Professor of Botany, University of Cambridge; Les Firbank, Senior Research Fellow in integrated ecosystems, University of Leeds; Martin Nesbit, Defra. Director of EU and International; and Martin Haworth, Director of Policy, National Farmers Union.
Dr Matt Reed was invited by the BBC Bristol to attend a regional food and drink event, which took place on 24 April.
Bristol is the only UK city with an official partnership with the BBC, and is now home to the highest concentration of the BBC’s food and drink programme makers, including Radio 4’s “The Food Programme” and “Farming Today”; BBC Food Online; BBC 2’s “Food & Drink” with Michel Roux, “Nigelissima”, the “Hairy Biker’s” series, “Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers” and BBC 1’s “Countryfile”.
In addition to starting a ‘food conversation’, the aim of this event was for the BBC to encourage stakeholders to work together to ultimately facilitate a series of food events across the whole of Bristol under one festival umbrella to stake its claim to being the good food capital city of the UK. Food and its surrounding issues is one of CCRI’s key research areas, and the CCRI is keen to be part of this project.
This ‘food conversation’ event gave Matt with the opportunity to meet with some local producers and sample some of their produce.
The BBC was delighted with the turnout and is now in the process of gathering feedback and information arising out of the event to help determine how the stakeholders can now work together to create a BBC facilitated food event for Bristol.