Thursday, July 03 2008
"Free European farmers up and they can feed the world" was the message from Neil Parish, Conservative MEP and Chairman of the European Parliament Agriculture Committee to the French presidency as he addressed a conference they held in the European Parliament entitled "Who will feed the world?"
The Conference, organised by French Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier and attended by both the EU Agriculture and Development Commissioners along with many ambassadors and Ministers from developing countries is the first of many big Agricultural initiatives envisaged by the French Presidency. It sought to address how agriculture can meet the challenge of increasing food production whilst remaining sustainable and adapting to the affects of climate change.
The current food crisis has led to protests, sometimes violent, around the globe and has made it increasingly unlikely that the world will meet the UN Millennium Development goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. Opinions on how to address the crisis are divided, with the French abandoning a market led approach to food production. They favour a return to production based agricultural subsidies and vehemently oppose any WTO deal which may force the EU to reduce its agricultural payments.
Mr Parish said:-
"The EU has already taken some action to help the developing world by abolishing set aside and import duties and raising milk quotas. Yet the French want to row back on even these minor reforms and return us to a pre 2003 production based system. This will not help our farmers and will not help the developing world one iota.
"We cannot allow government interference and selfish protectionism to be the only response we offer to the food crisis. Both in Europe and all over the world governments are getting nervous and are closing their borders in the misguided belief that this will shield them from the global effects of the crisis.
"We should free up our farmers from regulation, bureaucracy and market distorting subsidy and allow them to truly feed the world. European farmers have some of the best agricultural land in the world and they have been champing at the bit to produce more for years. The rest of the world takes their lead from Europe, if we can free up our agriculture, they will follow. Only then can we truly feed the world."
Promoted by Alan Mabbutt on behalf of the Conservative Party, both at 30 Millbank, London, SW1P 4DP