The Lords EU Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment has today urged the European Commission to make innovation an integral part of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform alongside increased funding for agricultural research and development.
The Committee has made a series of recommendations in response to European Commission proposals for CAP reform.
Lord Carter of Coles, Chairman of the Sub-Committee, said:
“We would like to see radical reform of the CAP so that it may address the most serious challenge of our time - namely the need to feed a fast expanding population with changing dietary habits from increasingly limited agricultural land availability, while at the same time adapting to climate change as well as protecting biodiversity and ecosystems. Radical responses are required.
“Innovation should be a central feature running through the whole reform agenda, since in turn it unlocks agricultural productivity which has remained static for so long. Innovation needs research and development. Innovation within the CAP should be considered alongside R&D funding under the Framework Programme. The two are intertwined: we need to see substantial funding for agricultural R&D and its translation into practice emerging in future from both Programmes.”
In its response, the Committee also makes the following points:
- There is a strong case for a thorough overhaul of the CAP, with the phasing-out of direct payments. In so far as they are retained, it is essential that changes are made which help farmers meet the challenges of global population growth, climate change, biodiversity protection, limited land availability and low productivity.
- Money should not be handed out unconditionally. Instead, the Committee welcomes the idea of the “greening” of Pillar 1 and believes that environmental considerations could be integrated into direct payments. This needs to go hand-in-hand with vastly improved farm advisory services so that farmers have better access to high quality impartial advice on possible innovative approaches.
- The Committee recognises that farming has a broader economic, social and cultural role. The Rural Development Fund should be recast to ensure that non-agricultural economic activities are genuinely available and viable as the agricultural sector adapts and restructures in response to market signals.
- High quality agricultural research and development, and its transfer to practitioners, are key to the future of EU agriculture. To boost available funding, transfer of funds from the CAP budget to the Research budget should be possible.
The Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into Innovation in EU Agriculture and is expected to report its findings in June.