6th Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA 2013)

6th Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA 2013)

Bob Zoellick, former president of the World Bank
Akin Adesina, Minister of Agriculture, Nigeria

5th March 2013. Brussels. 6th Forum for the Future of Agriculture. Following last year’s successful event which saw over 1200 participants join distinguished speakers and interesting debates and discussions, the sixth edition turned the spotlight on Meeting the Food & Environmental Challenge and focused on Africa. Last year the focus was on Brazil.

Themes included Africa’s new ways for food production and economic development, reform of the Common Agriculture Policy hanging in the balance, protection of the consumer, and the challenges around resource extraction, efficiency, and waste.

Discussions were moderated by BBC’s Stephen Sackur, and Matthew Dempsey from the “Irish Farmers Journal”.

Paolo De Castro, Chair Agriculture and Rural
Development Committee, European Parlement

International decision makers including President Barroso of the European Commission, and Bob Zoellick, former president of the World Bank, headlined the event. The debates seeked to uncover how best to boldly reconcile crop production with ecological preservation.

As world population hits the seven billion mark on its way to 9 billion by 2050, and Africa approaches critical mass in its capacity to become an agricultural powerhouse, FFA panellists examined what these issues and others mean for the future of EU agriculture and the balance to be struck between production, ecology and EU consumer well-being.

Speaking to the FFA, committee chairman Paolo De Castro, an Italian Socialist MEP, said the committee vote had yielded a confusing result and some of it would need to be changed in the plenary. This included a provision that would allow farmers to receive ‘double payments’ – from both CAP direct payments and rural development funds, something not allowed under the rules of th World Trade Organization.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “So in the next plenary we will adjust some problems.”

After changes made by the Lisbon treaty, this will be the first time the Parliament has exercised co-decision powers over the CAP, which remains one of the most unpopular EU policies with the public. Environmental campaigners have said that, without the greening element proposed by the Commission, the new CAP for the budgetary period 2014-20 will not be publicly acceptable.

But De Castro denied that watering down of the greening measures meant the CAP would lack legitimacy with the European public.

The CAP reform would have legitimacy, he argued, because of the increasing worldwide demand for food, the growing concern for food security, and the recognition that Europe’s potential for agriculture had to be increased.

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