In 2008 will take place the FAO Regional Conferences and Consultation. For Europe, these meetings will be held from the 23 to the 27 of June 2006 in Insbrück (Austria). The CSA, as focal point for the IPC in the European Region, is involved in the preparation, the organization and the follow up of the Insbrück Consultation (23 and 24 of June) and give regularly information about the ongoing activities related to the FAO and other agriculture and food issues in Europe and other Regions in the world.
The FAO-Civil society Consultation will focus on the reforms of the agricultural policies in Europe, in order to take into account the foreseen challenges in the Region in two areas: 1) global warming and 2) traditional regional agricultural products and foodstuff.
In particular, the CAP of the European Union must make it possible for producers to deal with the new constraints they will face and, at the same time, to contribute their share in the fight against climate changes.
Given the main points on the agenda of the FAO Regional Conference for Europe (climate change and agriculture in Europe; promotion of traditional regional products), but taking into account also current events and the interests of the European civil society organizations (CSOs), the Consultation will stress a series of aspects and stakes which relate to various types of European actors, in the EU as well as in the EEC countries (environmentalists and farmers, consumers…).
Given its use of land and considering the diversity of its systems of production, the European agricultural activity constitutes a strategic element in the fight against climatic change.
This strategic aspect has increased with the process of globalization which has not spared the agricultural sector, involving a considerable growth in the exchanges of agricultural products and by-products, which is obviously not without incidences on the impact of agriculture as regards to CO2 release and other harmful effects related to international transport (energy cost, oil spills and other pollution...).
The development of the production of agrofuels is another factor that which will have a significant impact (in which sense?) on global warming, taking into account the EU’s decision to ensure 10% of fuels consumption threw agrofuels. Hence the issue needs to be analyzed and considered with the greatest attention.
Another impact is related to the evolution of the systems of production, which was marked by industrialization –and the development of the intensive/industrial breeding in particular–, specialization and concentration. This evolution is not without incidence either on the increase of greenhouse gas release and on the carbon storage capacities of spaces, may they be natural or devoted to agricultural activities.
Consequently, the evolution of the agricultural activity and of the systems of production, as well as the impact of agricultural activity (including meadows, forests and aquiculture) on the total space will be strategic factors in the fight against global warming.
The promotion of regional traditional agricultural products and foodstuff in a strategy of sustainable rural development, developed on the level of the FAO Regional Conference for the only areas which are endangered by urban pressures and the expansion of infrastructures and tourism, is certainly not a panacea considering the challenges facing us for the whole of the European territory. Neverthless, this is an idea pointing to one of the possible orientations for the evolution of agricultural systems. Shouldn’t those be better rooted in the various areas, so as to use the local resources as efficiently as possible and avoiding expensive transport in energy and CO2 release ? This would enable them to be in keeping with a more sustainable line.
This being said, it is paramount to conclude that the future evolutions of the European agricultural activity will be decisive in the contribution that agriculture will make in the fight against global warming. This is why we need to focus on the European agricultural policies.
1. Aspects of the climate change in agriculture to be taken into account in the reforms of the CAP ("health check" and discussions on future prospects after 2013)
How to take into account the stake of climate change when the proposals for the reform of the CAP in 2008 are made ("health check") and when one is on the point of discussing the prospects for the longer-term CAP (after 2013)?
11 The promotion of systems of extensive breeding based on meadows, in particular via:
- keeping of coupled payments for breeding, in particular (but not only) in marginalized regions (mountainous regions…);
- introduction of payments in favour of pastureland (example of a subsidy for pastures) ;
- imposition of good agricultural practices in favour of the fight against global warming, through minimal rules in this field and independently of the granting of payments ;
- introduction of environmental set aside (in percentages of the area sown with cereals and oleaginous/proteaginous plants) which supports the fight against global warming and favours biodiversity.
12 The promotion of a greater European protein autonomy for animal feeds, in particular via:
- production of oleaginous/proteaginous plants which avoids the negative impact of intercontinental transport of these products;
- production systems which integrate breeding and culture. On the one hand this reinforces the autonomy of the breeding systems on the farm thanks to the production of feedingstuffs rich in proteins, and on the other it allows a natural fertilization of the cultures, while reducing to nearly zero the negative impact of the transport of these products (keeping coupled payments for the cultures in this sector, introduction of payments in favour of these cultures, support to the systems integrating cultures and breeding...).
13 The development of European organic agriculture and other sustainable systems
- advantages: reduction of inputs, natural fertilization of cultures, reduction in energy costs, the protection of biodiversity..;
- means: via the market organization of products resulting from these systems or via supports specific to these systems;
- analysis of the experiences and impact of the policies which were implemented in the field of sustainable agriculture and rural development, focusing on environmental and technological aspects.
14 Keeping tools to regulate the European markets
- the measures to fight global warming must also concern the first pillar of the CAP: keeping coupled payments for certain productions, introducing specific supports, organizing certain strategic markets and other measures (such as an adequate regulation as regards to good agricultural practices…);
- the tools of the first pillar are decisive to provoke modifications in the conditions of production and to consolidate the weakened areas of production, taking the territory into account.
15 Does the development of agro-fuels/bioenergies in Europe will contribute to climate change mitigation in a sustainable way?
- the development of agro-fuels/bioenergies in Europe needs to be carefully analyzed with the assessment of energy, release of greenhouse gas and natural resources. But one should also take into account the requirements concerning local development, rural employment and food security;
- the implications of the support policies to the use of agricultural biomass for the production of bio-fuels must be examined by including the impact on the prices of the basic cultures, competition with the traditional cultures and the implications for the local development, food security and climate change.
2. Aspects of the development of markets of traditional regional agricultural products and foodstuffs to be taken into account in the CAP reform ("health check" and discussions on future prospects after 2013)
How to take into account the development of markets of traditional regional agricultural products and foodstuffs and the sustainable rural development at the time proposals are made to reform the CAP ("health check" and discussion of the prospects for the CAP after 2013 ?
21 The structural support to the European family farm system (first pillar)
- the most important aspect of the support for family agriculture in Europe rests on the guarantee of prices covering the production costs and on the system of intervention on the markets (guarantee to sell at a minimum price);
- concerning the level of the payments ceiling, it is important to take into account the labour units working on the farm in the rural areas of Europe where agriculture is important in providing employment and income.
22 Policies of rural development (second pillar of the CAP)
- how to integrate the constraints of production/transformation of regional traditional food products and keeping agricultural activities in all the Regions in the rural development chapter of the proposals for the CAP reform ("health check" and prospects after 2013);
- how to integrate, in the policies relating to rural development, the impact on employment and incomes generated by the activities of production/transformation of the regional traditional agriculture and food products.
23 Support policies in agricultural and rural development in all the European Regions
- how to bring the other agricultural and rural development support policies carried out by the EU to promote regional traditional agriculture and food products and to preserve the agricultural production and transformation activities in all the European Regions;
- analysis of the experiences and of the impact of the policies which were implemented in favour of rural development, while focusing on the constraints imposed by the sanitary standards for the production/transformation of regional traditional agricultural and food products (example of the sterilization of milk and raw milk cheeses);
- analysis of the experiences of the EU as regards the assistance to agricultural and rural Regions in the EEC countries in transition, starting from a synthesis of the projects and investments financed by the Commission, and focusing on the evaluation of the impact on the size of the farms; the access to market; products and production standards; induced effects of exclusion of certain types of farms and producers (such as the small milk producers) and of certain regions/areas; the impact on traditional productions, the marketing systems and the rural environment;
- how could the organization of these markets favour a better valorization, the development and the marketing of traditional regional products produced and processed for local and regional markets;
- analysis of the experiences of rural development programs, such as LEADER, with respect to the dynamization of areas and rural communities and the rebuilding of rural communities, focused on the improvement of the sustainability of production and livelihoods, on the activities aiming at a revival of the traditional regional products, including services (like agro tourism).
3. Other aspects of the fight against global warming
31. Consumption models to be promoted among consumers
- how to influence the modes of consumption keeping in mind the impact on the climate change (control on the advertising messages and the marketing of the global retailers...).
32. Improved assessment of costs and benefits of environmentally friendly products and production
- how to enhance the value of traditional regional agricultural and food products and of environmentally friendly systems of production;
- how to integrate the concern of "food miles" and of its implications as regards marketing, trade, sanitary food safety and standards.
Point 5 of the Ministerial round table discussion at the FAO Regional Conference for Europe : FAO and adaptation to climate change in the European Region
for discussion and decision (ERC/08/…)
Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development in the European region will face many challenges over the coming years such as international competition, further liberalization of trade policy and population decline in rural areas. Climate change will add to these pressures and will make the challenges more difficult and costly. The projected climate changes will affect crop yields, livestock management and location of production with important risks for farm income and land abandonment in certain parts of the region.
In the European region, policies in support to agriculture, forestry and rural development play an important role in food production, the maintenance of rural landscapes and the provision of environmental services. Timely adjustments to these policies could provide opportunities to examine how to better integrate adaptation to climate change in agriculture support programmes. It should for instance be considered how to promote good farming practices which are compatible with the new climate conditions and which contribute proactively to preserving and protecting the environment.
FAO, through its multidisciplinary expertise in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, could facilitate an integrated approach to climate change adaptation of farmers, scientists and policy makers. Adaptation measures and options where FAO has a comparative advantage include rural areas and household livelihoods; national policies in agriculture, forestry and fisheries; and national and regional assessments for food security.
Point 6 of the Ministerial round table discussion at the FAO Regional Conference for Europe: Promotion of traditional regional agricultural products and food: A further step towards sustainable rural development
for discussion and/or decision (ERC/08/4)
In many regions in Europe, local cultivation practices, including processing of regional and local agricultural products, have been transmitted by the farmers from generation to generation. They have consequently assisted in preserving the typical landscape and local traditions as well as developing economic activities in rural areas.
In the past few decades, there has been a growing interest and demand by consumers of traditional regional agricultural products. However, there has also been an increase of endangered zones as a consequence of growing settlement pressure and an expansion of infrastructures and tourism, the latter necessitating the introduction of policies and measures to fight against natural hazards threatening not only the local communities, their settlements and traffic routes, but also their economic activities.
FAO could provide assistance in the production, processing and promotion of traditional agriculture products and food by supporting small scale processing formation of producer associations with a focus on developing the cooperation between agriculture production, agribusiness, tourism and restaurants and local trade as a contribution to mitigating the effects of rural out migration and supporting sustainable rural development. FAO could also facilitate twinning activities between regions in Europe and Central Asia related to capacity building, providing a forum for discussion, and exchange of information and experience.