Food security and independence,
a major challenge for humanity
A report on the UMP,
Political Party meeting on food security
Issues concerning food security and agriculture are gradually returning to the forefront of the political arena, as demonstrated during the UMP Political Party meeting on food security and independence held on 21 January 2010. Under the chairmanship of Jean-Francois Copé, the meeting discussed themes initiated last June and included a panel of distinguished speakers such as Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO, Mr. Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Marcel Mazoyer, Vice-President of Allies and emeritus professor at AgroParisTech and Ms. Doaa Abdel Motaal, counsellor for Agriculture, Office of the WTO Director General.
The UMP party president at the National Assembly has created a work group on food security and independence, led by Mr Christian Jacob, Chairman of the Committee on Sustainable Development and Planning, Peter Lequiller, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, and Patrick Ollier, Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs.
The meetings were arranged under three thematic workshops and were presented by the following members: In workshop n°1 - on international regulatory tools: Michel Diefenbacher, Member of Parliament for Lot-et-Garonne, and Isabelle Vasseur, MP for Aisne. In workshop n°2 - on the future of the CAP: Jean-Pierre Dupont, MP for Corrèze, and in Workshop n°3 – on stabilizing food prices and volumes in France: Mr. Michel Raison, MP for Haute-Saone,
Their objective was to devise new forms of regulation in agricultural markets and offer innovative solutions to meet the challenges of global food security. They intend to initiate a European Parliament consensus by putting forward a new project aimed at unblocking the current situation to the leaders of the political groups of the 26 other member states of the EPP.
Many experts were present, following the example of momagri whose work and proposals have met with very positive response from MPs. It is very encouraging to see political groups finally grasping the key issues for the future of France, Europe and the world; let us hope that this awareness will lead to real in-depth work on conditions and implementation, and ultimately lead to concrete policies.
The momagri Editorial Team
I. The UMP’s findings on new global food and agricultural governance
Workshop 1: "In search of new international regulatory tools":
- President: Mr. Christian Jacob, Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning
Proposal n°1 : Massively reinvest in agriculture.
- Speakers: Mr. Michel Diefenbacher, MP for Lot-et-Garonne, Isabelle Vasseur, MP for Aisne
Proposal n°2 : As a priority, redirect policies against hunger towards rural populations in developing countries giving priority to the development of family agricultural productivity.
Proposal n°3 : Reduce field loss in developing countries which still accounts for at least 30% of the total production volume.
This requires improving transport infrastructure, preservation and storage and developing market access.
Proposal n°4 : Promote food production for local markets and protect biodiversity, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, to reduce imports. Africa has the potential to feed its population with its high agricultural potential.
Proposal n°5 : Invest to improve water control and management, a main priority. Of the 42 million hectares for potential irrigation, only 1/3 is used. In Africa only 7% of the land is irrigated compared to nearly 40% in Asia.
Proposal n°6 : Support fair trade by implementing adapted public policies. (...)
Proposal n°7 : Implement a new global food and agricultural governance, based on World Agriculture. See MOMAGRI, Movement for World Agriculture.
Proposal n°8 : Put agriculture and food security and independence on the international negotiating table after Copenhagen.
Proposal n°9 : Integrate the "finance climate" to development aid in international negotiations.
II. The UMP’s findings for a strong and ambitious CAP
Workshop 2: "The future of the CAP:
- President: Mr. Pierre Lequiller, Chairman of the Commission on European Affairs
Proposal n°10 : Encourage the development of competitive agricultural production that ensures the security of supplies to Europe and assists the development of a "European food model”, based on the quality and diversity of agricultural products and balanced regional development. This requires maintaining the CAP’s two pillars.
- Rapporteur: Mr Jean-Pierre Dupont, MP Corrèze
Proposal n°11 : Reflect on standardizing European labour laws in the agricultural sector, particularly seasonal work.
Proposal n°12 : Promote environmentally friendly, sustainable agriculture which participates in green growth and the preservation of agricultural potential.
Proposal n°13 : Implement a new European regulation of agricultural markets.
The main recommendations to achieve this are:
An equilibrium price for each crop would be defined by taking into account an honest remuneration for producers and a reasonable buying price for consumers. Member states would define a zone for price fluctuation with a floor price and ceiling price.
- improve the governance of agricultural professions and sector organization and promote contracting within the agricultural sector;
- improve management tools for economic risk;
- promote a European “agricultural currency snake” so as to reduce price fluctuations of agricultural produce.
If these thresholds are met, Member States would enter into a negotiation process to decide whether it is necessary or not to intervene on the market of the concerned product. In case of failure, a backup procedure would be implemented.
Proposal n°14 : Increase research and innovation in agriculture to contribute to world food equilibrium.
Proposal n°15 : Launch a European information campaign directed at public opinion on food security and independence and support for agriculture.
III. The UMP’s findings on competitive and sustainable agricultural production,
Workshop 3: "The challenges of stabilizing food prices and volumes in France":
- Speakers: Mr Patrick Ollier, Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs, Mr. Serge Poignant, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs
Proposal n°16 : Use the market regulation instruments provided by the CAP, particularly the structural instruments that reinforce agricultural production efficiency (economic organization, quality improvement).
- Rapporteur: Mr Michel Raison, MP for Haute-Saône
Proposal n°17 : Improve in-field knowledge on pricing and margins for agricultural commodities and transparency in commercial relations, particularly by giving more power to the commission for prices and margins.
Proposal n°18 : Encourage a balance in relations between sector operators, including the introduction of written contracts between producers and buyers.
Proposal n°19 : Increase the competitiveness of French agriculture by improving the organization of producers and by reinforcing interprofessional organizations.
Proposal n°20 : Improve the efficacy of weather and economic risk cover in case of crisis.
At the close of the meeting, momagri ideas clearly emerged among the selected proposals. In particular, the idea of shifting agricultural market regulation to a system similar to that of the “snake in the tunnel”, with free price variation in the tunnel and State intervention when limits are exceeded, which is a project that momagri has been reflecting on for several years. Currently, this system seems to be best suited to cope with price volatility in international agricultural markets. The fact that the UMP party underlines the relevance of integrating it into their proposals has raised hopes that real progress will be made in this area.
The momagri Editorial Team