A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.

The Breton agricultural crisis and the euro crisis: Two symptoms of a Europe in search of a strategy

momagri editorial department

The crisis in the farm and agro-food sector in Brittany is unprecedented. Despite the claims made by experts and decision-makers, no one had predicted its scope and weight, nor does anyone currently offer concrete and structural solutions to resolve it.

In fact, the triggering factors are diffuse and complex, the available tools to prevent and explain crises are proving to be defective, and national and European policies are currently incomplete since they are inadequate in finding a solution that can be accepted by the various member states, especially France and Germany.

So we must face up to our responsibilities by identifying the limitations and imperfections of a regional model––Brittany’s in this case––to explain the current situation, and by attempting to bring about economic and geographical solutions in the hope of turning the tide. The Breton agricultural crisis is in fact less a regional agricultural downturn than a European agricultural crisis understood as a “system”, a symptom of which occurred in Brittany to then contaminate the whole regional agro-food industry.

By pointing fingers at the flaws of the Breton “agricultural model”, and not at the failures of the European farming system and its repercussions on regional sectors in member states, decision-makers are focusing on a fire whose seat is somewhere else.

It is therefore deceptive and risky to segment European agricultural markets and the crises that an increasing number of sectors are or are enduring, or about to endure, since not a single agricultural activity can be spared. Tomorrow’s Breton chicken or pork crisis might spread to milk, cattle, sheep and even grains, if the European agricultural political and economic model is not retooled to adjust to new market realities and the aggressive strategies implemented by the other world agricultural powerhouses.

Agriculture is one of the economic sectors that shape Europe, and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is, in addition to the monetary policy, the sole European integrated policy. But both policies are in search of a strategy, and are even criticized by some as the root of our current crises.

Europe was built on the vision of men who believed in a genuine economic and political cooperative approach, and the so-called “common” policies that were implemented––especially in agricultural and monetary areas––demonstrate and upheld their effectiveness and benefits.

Faced with the CAP creeping re-nationalization and recurrent attacks against the single currency, how can we still speak of “common” policies today?

The basis of the political and economic European cooperation still is the EU preference principle, the necessity and duty for all member states to essentially pull in the same direction. The current inability of the CAP and the Euro to face the crises striking most member states and to provide pertinent reactions naturally leads to uncooperative suspicions and behaviors in the hope of improving their economic condition, an issue where European policies are now in short supply.

The current situation is not sustainable and today’s CAP is only the recipient of a series of reforms begun in the 1990s, a time that does not look like anything we now have.

Europe thus finds itself at a crossroads and has two options:
    - Discontinuing the CAP and opting for “on demand” regional and sectorial agricultural policies that will not be capable to deal with the increasing volatility of global markets and the aggressive strategies of emerging agricultural powers;

    - Pooling existing European forces around a common agricultural strategy through a renewed CAP adapted to the new economic and strategic challenges of agriculture and food, as it is done in the United States, China and Brazil.

The CAP re-nationalization is not the solution and will only lead to the gradual––sector by sector––dismantling of European agriculture, which ensures the food security and supply for 500 million consumers. So, European decision-makers have to make a political choice with far-reaching consequences for the future of Europe.

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Paris, 24 May 2019