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Productive and Promising Meetings in Brussels and Rome
WOAgri Editorial Department
A WOAgri delegation headed by Alain Catala (Vice-President) and Jacques Carles (Executive Director) visited the Directorate-General for Agriculture (DG AGRI) of the European Commission in Brussels and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, on November 27 and 28, 2007, respectively. The trips served to establish contact with these two institutions and to present the work underway at WOAgri, including the instruments under development, and to examine possibilities for future cooperation. Both visits bore results and showed that agriculture constitutes a strategic sector for the future, requiring new, concrete proposals that reach beyond the current national divides.
DG AGRI attentive and interested
Our delegation met with Tassos Haniotis and Pierre Bascou, who head the G1 “Agricultural Policy Analysis and Perspectives” unit and the G2 “Economic Analyses – Macro – of EU Agriculture” unit, respectively, along with experts from their units. The directors, whose units form the core of economic activity at the DG AGRI, expressed undeniable interest in our approach and efforts, as well as anticipation for the initial findings of the NAR model, expected in early 2008.
They, too, believe we must examine the causes and nature of the high volatility of agricultural raw materials prices and establish ad hoc mechanisms for risk management, in the framework of the CAP health check and policy reforms, slated for 2013. The Directorate’s initial calculations indicate that insurance-related costs could be quite significant, and this considering only exogenous risks. This explains the Directorate’s great interest in the innovative NAR model, which takes into account both exogenous and endogenous risks and also fills a gap in the absence of simulation models that are specific to agriculture and international in scope.
A second meeting was planned for February 2008 and will be the occasion to provide further details on the overall design of the NAR model, as well as the initial results we will have by then.
FAO: Shared points of view and a complementary approach
Our delegation next went to FAO headquarters in Rome to meet with Jean-Jacques Soula (Scientific Advisor and Alternate Permanent Representative of France to FAO), Hervé Lejeune (Assistant Director-General to Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO) and Monsignor Volante (Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO, IFAD and WFP).
The meeting was productive, and our interlocutors mentioned several times how complementary WOAgri was to the FAO – along with its views regarding the excessive liberalism in the agricultural sector. They furthermore viewed WOAgri’s approach as innovative and useful, at a time when agricultural markets have shown that prices can vary significantly. They share our concern over the extreme volatility of agricultural prices and its effects on poverty. More generally, they believe the time has come to reaffirm agriculture’s strategic role in reconciling today’s major economic, environmental and development-related challenges.
As was the case with the DG AGRI, our interlocutors at the FAO proposed that we present the initial results of the NAR model to a group comprised of representatives from FAO member countries, FAO economists and a community of researchers dedicated to exploring ways to improve international cooperation.
As we observed in Africa in 2006 and in Washington, DC, this year, there is undeniable interest in WOAgri’s approach, and many await with anticipation the first results of the NAR model – especially since 2008 will be the year of great stakes: at the national level (with preparations for France’s [EU] presidency in the second half of 2008), the European level (with the CAP health check and reforms) and the international level (Doha negotiations at a stalemate and the finalization of the U.S. Farm Bill, with a backdrop of highly volatile agricultural prices…).