Weighing in at more than 1,000 pages of proposals, impact assessments and annexes, the Common Agricultural Policy is a piece of Brussels bureaucracy that makes even hardened policy wonks break out in a cold sweat.
Much of the EC’s latest proposals for reforming the CAP, presented by Commissioner Dacian Ciolos last week, are focused on ‘greening’ using financial incentives to push farmers towards more ecologically friendly farming methods.
The proposals have gone down like a vegetarian lunch at a livestock convention. Those holding out for a greener CAP have been disappointed with “unambitious” targets, while food and farming reps have been quick to raise concerns that environmental targets could hamper farmers’ ability to produce the right foods at the right time, driving up prices.
No one wants to hear about higher prices in the current climate, but a switch to ‘greener’ methods rarely comes without a price tag. Food and farming will increasingly be confronted with tension between commercial and environmental agendas the CAP is likely just the start.