Posted on

 This question is on the minds of many, farmers and others in the agri-food sector alike.

They question whether it is worthwhile to start debating, preparing a new CAP reform when the current policy is barely on its third year of implementation.

That does not mean that people think the current policy offers full satisfaction. It has failed to cope with sectorial crisis and increased price volatility. Its greening prescriptions are too bureaucratic and cumbersome when compared to its results. But it is predictable, it is well known, it provides helpful support to so many farmers, and secures supplies to the whole agri-food chain.

So it is understandable that many have “reform fatigue” and would prefer continuity rather than any change.

Unfortunately, change will inevitably come. It will come through Brexit and its impact on CAP budget allocation. It will come through increased competition for CAP resources from other EU policies, first and foremost again from environmental quarters.

The debate on the next EU Multi-Annual Financial framework that will decide on the post-2020 EU budget and its repartition amongst policy areas, is around the corner.

If those who want to see the CAP as THE European policy that promotes the future, and contributes to growth and environmental sustainability, stay silent or offer no new vision, others will step in and determine the future of the CAP.

This is not speculation, it’s already today’s reality. Some are already vocal on their demands for a further shift of the CAP away from economic policies into conservation policies.

The sector should come out loudly in favor of a better CAP. The call should not be for radical reform, but rather for a new vision that builds on making agriculture more competitive, that supports targeted investments with a double purpose of improving revenues and environmental sustainability, that better shields the sector against high volatility and crisis, and that drastically improves the strength of the sector in the marketing chain.

This new vision has to be defined collectively in 2017 and first actions have already to be taken through the so-called Financial Omnibus negotiation, notably on volatility and on a more balanced food chain.