அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு

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அரசியல் பிரச்சாரத்தின் ஆதாரக் கோட்பாடு.

'' நீதி, மதம், அரசியல், சமுதாயம் சம்பந்தமான எல்லாவித சொல்லடுக்குகளுக்கும் பிரகடனங்களுக்கும் வாக்குறுதிகளுக்கும் பின்னே ஏதாவதொரு வர்க்கத்தின் நலன்கள் ஒழிந்து நிற்பதைக் கண்டுகொள்ள மக்கள் தெரிந்துகொள்ளாத வரையில் அரசியலில் அவர்கள் முட்டாள்தனமான ஏமாளிகளாகவும் தம்மைத் தாமே ஏமாற்றிக்கொள்வோராகவும் இருந்தனர், எப்போதும் இருப்பார்கள். பழைய ஏற்பாடு ஒவ்வொன்றும் எவ்வளவுதான் காட்டு மிராண்டித் தனமாகவும் அழுகிப் போனதாகவும் தோன்றிய போதிலும் ஏதாவது ஒரு ஆளும்வர்க்கத்தின் சக்தியைக் கொண்டு அது நிலைநிறுத்தப்பட்டு வருகிறது. சீர்திருத்தங்கள், அபிவிருத்திகள் ஆகியவற்றின் ஆதரவாளர்கள் இதை உணராத வரையில் பழைய அமைப்பு முறையின் பாதுகாவலர்கள் அவர்களை என்றென்றும் முட்டாளாக்கிக் கொண்டே இருப்பார்கள். இந்த வர்க்கங்களின் எதிர்ப்பைத் தகர்த்து ஒழிப்பதற்கு ஒரே ஒரு வழிதான் உண்டு. அது என்ன?

பழைமையைத் துடைத்தெறியவும் புதுமையைச் சிருக்ஷ்டிக்கவும் திறன் பெற்றவையும், சமுதாயத்தில் தாங்கள் வகிக்கும் ஸ்தானத்தின் காரணமாக அப்படிச் சிருக்ஷ்டித்துக் தீரவேண்டிய நிர்ப்பந்தத்திலிருக்கிறவையுமான சக்திகளை, நம்மைச் சூழ்ந்துள்ள இதே சமுதாயத்துக்குள்ளேயே நாம் கண்டுபிடித்து, அந்தச் சக்திகளுக்கு ஞானமூட்டிப் போராட்டத்துக்கு ஸ்தாபன ரீதியாகத் திரட்ட வேண்டும். இது ஒன்றேதான் வழி. ''

மாமேதை தோழர் லெனின்
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Monday, 20 November 2017

கபடதாரி சீமானின் ஈழத் தமிழ் ஆதரவு அரசியல் வேடம், அம்பலம்!



    Seemans political cheekiness                      குட்டானின் குரல்

         -----------------------------         தொடர்ந்து ஒலிக்கும்          --------------------------------

Friday, 17 November 2017

Israel and Saudis: Best of Friends?

Israel and Saudis: Best of Friends?

By Stephen Lendman
Global Research, November 17, 2017

They’re strange bedfellows, allies of convenience against a common adversary – Iran for its sovereign independence and opposition to their hegemonic ambitions.

In an unprecedented interview with London-based, Saudi-owned Elaph.com, IDF chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot said Israel is willing to share intelligence with Riyadh.

He claimed with Trump as US president,

“there is an opportunity for a new international alliance in the region and a major strategic plan to stop the Iranian threat.”

“We are ready to exchange experiences with moderate Arab countries and exchange intelligence to confront Iran.”

Riyadh and Tel Aviv share “many common interests,” he added, calling Tehran the region’s “biggest threat.”

Eisenkot lied claiming Tehran aims “to control the Middle East by means of two Shiite crescents. The first from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and the second from Bahrain through to Yemen until the Red Sea.”

“This is what must be prevented in the region. In this matter, there is complete agreement between us and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has never been our enemy. It has not fought us nor have we fought it.”

இந்திரா பாசிசம்

Israel admits to a working relationship with Saudi Arabia




Israel admits to a working relationship with Saudi Arabia
It turns out that something can bring two adversaries together: Iran

JEREMY BINCKES 11.17.2017•2:55 PM

The political situation in the Middle East is now, officially, a lot more complex than initially thought.
Israel is openly admitting that the country has been working with Saudi Arabia in military matters. The two countries, which don't have diplomatic ties, have found that there's a common adversary to deal with: Iran.

Israel's military chief told a Saudi newspaper that Israelis and Saudis were in agreement that Iran was the "largest threat to the region," per the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The news isn't surprising to anyone who has closely followed Middle East politics. Israel and Saudi Arabia both have a common enemy in Iran. Israel has claimed that Iran causes an existential threat to its existence — Iran has funded the anti-Israel group Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization — while Saudi Arabia has been fighting a proxy war with Iran in Yemen, which until recently, has had American consent.

For two countries that have had a long history of tensions between them, notice of an alliance, no matter how small, represents a big step. As NBC noted, there's significant risk of blowback, especially for Saudi Arabia, which has claimed to be the standard-bearer for a strain of Islam that has spread through the world:

An Israeli-Saudi alliance would also be vastly unpopular on the Arab street given the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

"An alliance with Israel will definitely hurt the Saudis and their allies," said Hassan Hassan, an author and Middle East expert with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington. "It makes sense for them on the geopolitical level but not internally or on the social level."

"The paradox is that Saudi Arabia and others want to counter Iran through an alliance with Israel, but failing to stand up to Iran and then align with Israel is ticking all the boxes of a bad policy" . . .

The stakes are much higher for Saudi Arabia than Israel. The Saudis remain reluctant to publicly acknowledge or accept that relations are, indeed, improving. It's unlikely that any relationship will be formalized in the absence of Palestinian statehood — a condition the Saudis have demanded for years. But under the table, both sides agree that the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Indian farmers bury themselves to protest land acquisition deal


Indian farmers bury themselves to protest land acquisition deal
Nita Bhalla

READNEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scores of farmers in western India have buried themselves neck-deep in the ground or are sitting in trenches to protest against what they say is meager financial compensation from authorities keen to build housing on their land.

More than 50 farmers - men and women - from the desert state of Rajasthan began their protest two days ago, claiming local authorities had forcibly acquired their land at rates dating back to 2010 and called for increased compensation.



Television pictures from Nindar village, about 15 km (10 miles) from the fort city of Jaipur, showed about a dozen men standing in narrow pits dug up to their necks, and scores of women sitting in trenches as crowds gathered round.

“We are here to demand (a) better rate for our land. What the government is offering us is not enough. The cost of land is much higher than it was before,” an elderly farmer, wearing a colorful turban and standing in a narrow pit, told the NDTV news channel on Wednesday.

Officials from the Jaipur Development Authority, which has acquired the land to build a housing project as part of the expansion of the popular tourist city, were not immediately available to comment on the protest.

The villagers have been holding demonstrations for better compensation since mid-September, but there has been no response from the government, they said.


This is not the first time farmers have staged dramatic protests to draw attention to their plight.

In March, drought-hit and debt-ridden farmers from the southern state of Tamil Nadu traveled to New Delhi in a protest where they displayed the skulls of fellow farmers believed to have committed suicide, and placed live rats in their mouths.

Reporting by Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Waiting for India’s response: Pakistan on J&K dialogue


Waiting for India’s response: Pakistan on J&K dialogue

Pakistan last week announced that the wife of Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court, can meet him “purely on humanitarian grounds.”

Islamabad, Publish Date: Nov 16 2017 11:47PM | Updated Date: Nov 16 2017 11:47PM


Pakistan on Thursday said it has offered to resume a dialogue with India on Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and other pending issues and was awaiting a response from New Delhi.

Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal said that it was also awaiting India’s reply on Pakistan’s offer to allow alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to meet his wife.

Pakistan last week announced that the wife of Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court, can meet him “purely on humanitarian grounds.”

The spokesman expressed concern over recent cruise missile tests conducted by India, complaining that Pakistan should have been informed prior to the tests.

He termed the tests a potential threat to peace in the region.

The spokesman said there was no response from India on Pakistan’s Lt Col. (retd) Habib Zahir, who went missing in Nepal earlier this year.

Habib went missing from Lumbini, a Nepalese town near the Indian border, on April 6 soon after arriving in Nepal. (IANS)

Zimbabwe crisis

The rivalry between First Lady Grace Mugabe talks to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa led to a military intervention in Zimbabwe [Reuters]
Zimbabwe crisis
Veterans of the war of independence are highly influential in the army and the ruling party.
Mugabe has regularly removed veterans from posts in Zanu-PF in recent years, replacing them with officials who did not fight in the war.

Who are the key players in the Zimbabwe crisis?

15 Nov 2017

Robert Mugabe 

Robert Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924, in what was then known as Rhodesia but is now called Zimbabwe.

The former school teacher, with seven university degrees, first came to prominence after waging a bloody guerrilla war against white colonial rulers, who jailed him for 10 years over a "subversive speech" he made in 1964.

Soon after his release from jail in 1974, he caused a seismic shift in Rhodesian politics, riding a wave of popular outrage against the colonial establishment.

He fought in Rhodesia's war for independence and became prime minister in 1980 of the newly independent country born from that conflict.

The new state was renamed Zimbabwe and Mugabe later assumed the presidency in 1987.

He married his current wife and Zimbabwe's First Lady, Grace Mugabe, in 1996.

Since then, he has won a series of controversial elections marred by accusations of vote rigging, most significantly the 2008 vote, which he allegedly lost to now-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, sparking political violence that human rights groups say claimed over 200 lives.

While his supporters say he speaks for the poor; his critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian.

Mugabe's rule has so far culminated in a massive economic crisis in Zimbabwe, once one of Africa's richest countries.

Grace Mugabe

Born in 1965 in South Africa, Grace Mugabe has been the first lady of Zimbabwe since she married President Robert Mugabe in 1996.

She is 41 years younger than her husband and was known for her expensive shopping habits and charity work before taking an active role in the country’s ruling party, Zanu-PF, in which she leads the women’s division.

Her extravagant lifestyle has been a source of discomfort in Zimbabwe where many face severe economic hardship.

Grace Mugabe is said to be working to succeed Mugabe and her main rival to the presidency, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sacked by her husband in November 2017, leading to the military intervention.

She recently sued Zimbabwean newspaper, The Standard, after it published Wikileaks cables, which claimed she took huge kickbacks from diamond mines in Zimbabwe.

The University of Zimbabwe awarded her a doctoral degree in Sociology in 2014, two months after she started the course, sparking outrage among academics in the country.

He fought in the country’s war of independence and was arrested in 1965, subsequently spending the next ten years in prison.

After he was freed, he was deported to Zambia, where he studied and practiced law, in addition to serving as Zanu-PF's secretary in Lusaka.

He became the special assistant to Mugabe in 1977, heading both the military and civil divisions of the party.

After independence, Mnangagwa became the first minister for national security and held various positions during his political career, ending up as vice president in 2013.

As a veteran of the war of independence and a powerful figure in Zanu-PF, he was seen as a possible successor to Mugabe.

Mnangagwa was removed from government by Mugabe in November 2017 for allegedly plotting against the incumbent leader and later fled to South Africa.

The vice president commanded the support of the army and veterans of the war of independence.

On November 15, the army took over the headquarters of the state broadcaster ZBC and blocked access to government offices, but denied a coup was underway.

ZNA was formed after independence in 1980, through the integration of the former Rhodesian army, Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, Zimbabwe African People's Union and the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army. The latter three fought the war of independence against the government in the seventies.

The army's mission statement is "to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests of Zimbabwe and to contribute to international peace and security".

The Zimbabwean government claimed in 2007 that it foiled an alleged coup involving hundreds of soldiers and high-ranking officers.

Independence war veterans

Veterans of the war of independence are highly influential in the army and the ruling party.

Mugabe has regularly removed veterans from posts in Zanu-PF in recent years, replacing them with officials who did not fight in the war.

As a result, relations with the president the veterans soured and many vowed to form a front in opposition to Mugabe, backing Mnangagwa In the power struggle between the vice-president and Grace Mugabe within Zanu-PF.

Before November's takeover, some army generals publicly said that they will not allow someone who did not fight in the independence war to rule the country after Mugabe, seemingly a reference to Grace Mugabe.

Right after the military intervention, Chris Mutsvangwa, the head of the war veterans' group Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), issued a statement, praising the army for "a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power".

The statement said the army will return Zimbabwe to "genuine democracy".

உணவே பிரதானம்!


Most UK supermarkets falling short in fight against antibiotics crisis

Overuse of antibiotics on farms is major cause of growing resistance in humans, as campaigners name Lidl as worst performer

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Most of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains are falling short on measures to reduce the use of antibiotics in the production of the meat and animal products they sell, campaigners have warned, with potentially harmful impacts on human health.

Lidl performed worst of the nine supermarket chains examined by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, a pressure group made up of several NGOs.

Lidl had no publicly available policy on the use of antibiotics in its farm supply chain, leaving consumers in the dark and with no publicly available evidence of any effort to curb the overuse of antibiotics of concern.

The supermarket told the Guardian it had been working on a policy, which would soon be published. The policy it sent to the Guardian is four sentences long and “encourages producers to optimise welfare, health, hygiene, husbandry and biosecurity” of their animals, using antibiotics “as little as possible and as much as necessary”, without containing any specifics on how this can be achieved or measured.

Is it time for an antibiotic-free label on our food?

The overuse of antibiotics on farms is a major cause of the growing resistance in humans that is giving rise to superbugs, bacteria impervious to all but the strongest medicines and which pose a huge and growing threat to human health.

The UK’s chief medical officer has repeatedly warned that growing resistance to antibiotics could render even routine operations highly dangerous in a few years.

The best-performing supermarket was Waitrose, which not only has a clearly articulated policy on antibiotics in its supply chain, but also a strategy for reducing antibiotic use and a commitment to publishing the results, showing the amount of antibiotics used on the farms from which it is supplied.

The supermarket also bans the routine use of antibiotics on its farms, and the use of some of the strongest antibiotics, which the World Health Organisation has urged should be reserved for the use of human patients, not farm animals.

Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco were ranked next, while second from bottom were Asda and Aldi, which had publicly available policies on antibiotic use but few stringent measures associated with them, with the Co-op group also falling short on measures such as banning the strong antibiotic colistin and publishing data on antibiotic use.

Suzi Shingler, campaign manager at the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, said: “These findings show some supermarkets are finally starting to take the issue of antibiotic resistance more seriously. This is very welcome and has undoubtedly contributed to the recent reductions in use.

“Unfortunately, our survey also shows that some supermarkets have much more to do, and others have yet to take any significant action.”

All of the supermarkets in the report were contacted by the Guardian for comment. Some referred the Guardian to the British Retail Consortium, which represents major retailers. Andrew Opie, director of food policy at the trade body, said in a statement: “Retailers are aware of the challenges in relation to continued use of antimicrobials in the supply chain and advocate that medicines are used responsibly.

“This prevents unnecessary use while protecting against any negative effects on animal welfare. It is important that any decisions are supported by robust scientific justification. Significant reductions have already been achieved in UK food and farming and retailers are working collaboratively with industry partners to make sustained improvements.”

In addition, Asda said it would soon update its antibiotics policy.

Waitrose said: “Waitrose recognises the potential risks to human healthcare of the overuse of antibiotics in livestock supply chains. Within the Waitrose supply chain, all antibiotics are used carefully, under strict protocols and only in controlled circumstances; entirely healthy animals are not routinely given antibiotics, they are only used for treating ill animals or for those with pre-existing conditions.

“We maintain some antibiotics are important medicines to hold in the animal health armoury but must be used sparingly and only as a last resort.”

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics advises some basic measures to reduce antibiotic use on farms. These include leaving piglets with their mothers for a few weeks longer after birth, which drastically reduces the need for antibiotics to halt the diarrhoea associated with early weaning.

Fast-growing chickens, usually sent to slaughter only a month or five weeks from birth, can be replaced with slower-growing kinds less likely to fall prey to illness. Lower-stocking densities among indoor chickens also reduce antibiotic use substantially.

Among dairy cows, those raised indoors tend to suffer more from conditions such as mastitis, which requires antibiotic use. The Guardian recently found a large increase in the number of megafarms in the UK, where hundreds or thousands of animals are kept in large sheds, which has concerned antibiotics and animal welfare campaigners.

Cóilín Nunan, scientific adviser to the Alliance, said: “Much greater cuts in use are urgently needed if we are to preserve our remaining antibiotics. Intensive livestock farmers have much to learn from the practices of more extensive farming systems, which often have minimal antibiotic use.

“Moving to later weaning of piglets, using slower-growing chickens, lowering stocking densities of animals kept indoors and keeping cattle on pasture are all essential and achievable measures which can lower antibiotic use.”

Thursday, 16 November 2017

How to fix European farming


How to fix European farming

Milk wars, free trade, red tape and ‘green’ rules — experts and insiders offer solutions to Europe’s farming headaches.

By POLITICO

A perfect storm: That’s how policymakers, farmers and the companies catering to them describe this moment in European agriculture.

The 2014 Russian food-import ban cut access to a major export market for many European producers. The end of milk quotas in 2015 flung dairy farmers into a ruinous cycle of overproduction, making milk cheaper than bottled water in some places. Livestock farmers think they’re next in line, if free trade deals expose them to competition from agricultural heavyweights in the U.S. and Mercosur.

Add to this cocktail a byzantine agricultural policy — where subsidy-paying bodies and farmers both struggle to file the correct paperwork — and the growing but pricey expectation that farming needs to be greener. Farmers are clamoring for more money, but the EU has refugees to think about too. The sector needs action now, but EU rules take years to rework.

Don’t throw money at the problem

Faustine Bas-Defossez is senior policy officer for agriculture and bioenergy at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

To eat, we need to farm, and to farm we need a safe and clean environment. Yet the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) encourages socially and environmentally destructive farming practices that precipitate the degradation of our natural resources and threaten the Continent’s ability to produce the food it needs.

Attempts to make the CAP greener have failed. The latest so-called “green” reform allows for environmental payments to maize mono-cultures, the use of pesticides on land set aside for nature protection, and the allocation of CAP public money to farmers who infringe EU waterway protection laws.

Neither has the policy become any fairer: Around 70 percent of CAP payments go to roughly 30 percent of the biggest and most polluting farmers.

Despite receiving 40 percent of the total EU budget every year, the farming sector is in constant crisis. Milk and pork producers struggle in a liberalized market as a result of ridiculously low prices caused by overproduction. Throwing more money at the problem will only worsen conditions for farmers, consumers and the environment. To fix the issue, we need to transition to a truly sustainable farming model.

We need policies that focus on producing quality food, reducing waste, improving diets and shortening supply chains. We need policies that protect farmers, reduce their reliance on dangerous pesticides through ecological farm practices, rebuild soil fertility and, crucially, secure farmers’ livelihoods by sustaining yields over time.

To that end, we must re-evaluate the CAP. Does the policy really deliver on sustainable management of natural resources? Does public money really provide people with good quality, healthy food and offer farmers a decent and stable income?

To get this process started, 115 organizations have called on the European Commission to carry out a “CAP Fitness Check” to answer questions about the policy’s relevance, added value, efficiency, effectiveness and coherence.

Only close scrutiny of the CAP will pave the way toward a more sustainable policy, and in turn a more sustainable food and farming system in the EU.

* * *

Look beyond immediate crisis to long-term challenges

Phil Hogan is European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

European agriculture faces serious short-term challenges. We are going through a crisis in certain agricultural markets, especially in dairy and pig meat. But we need to remember to cast our eyes over the horizon. To meet long-term challenges, we will need to innovate, and to monitor, evaluate and modernize our CAP.

Agriculture is not just an economic sector — it is also a social and environmental activity. In the long-run, we therefore need to make sure to continue contributing to jobs in rural areas, and to continue developing these more disadvantaged and rural regions in a balanced and sustainable way.

To “fix farming,” it is of vital importance that producers get a fair price for their product. As the CAP has become more market oriented in recent years, we need to look at new tools to help mitigate risk. We need to consider greater use of mutual funds, insurance and financial instruments, among other measures, and further encourage producers to form producer organizations in order to negotiate fair prices.

We also must ensure processors and retailers do not engage in unfair trading practices at the expense of farmers. I have asked the Agricultural Markets Taskforce to look at these issues in detail and to report to me by year end with concrete suggestions.

Crises are the time for innovation. Let’s act now

Michel Dantin is a French member of the European Parliament, and a member of the committee on agriculture and rural development.

For more than a year, a genuine milk war has ravaged Europe. The first victims have been Europe’s farmers. The crisis won’t end until we take radical action.

Given the current gridlock in the Council over how to solve the overproduction crisis, the European Commission, with the support of the European Parliament, should take responsibility for proposing a credible and binding plan to limit diary production in the EU. Encouraging farmers to retire is one of many measures that can have an immediate effect on the market prices.

EU decision makers must, in the longer run, face up to reality: The current CAP’s founding principles — unchallenged since 1992 — are outdated. The European Commission is the only defender of the World Trade Organization; our main international competitors (the U.S., Brazil, India, China) have already decided to exempt themselves from its rules and strongly subsidize their agriculture sectors.

Investment, sustainability, resilience and, above all, economics, should be at the heart of a new and improved CAP.

This reformed policy should provide tools to foster investments in the farming sector and help EU regions increase their competitiveness. It should set targets for farmers, not lecture them on how they should be achieved.

Finally, the new CAP should protect farmers from the negative effects of price volatility. It should include credible crisis management tools and effective risk management schemes. The risk level on the market is currently so high that farmers and farming organizations can’t deal with it alone.

* * *

Get rid of red tape in farming policy

Pekka Pesonen is secretary-general of COPA & COGECA, which represents 2.3 million farmers and their cooperatives across the EU.

European agriculture is facing one of the worst crises in decades. Producer prices have dropped and input costs are soaring. In recent months, thousands of farmers have protested in Europe.

The market — especially for beef, pork, dairy, fruit and vegetables — is rapidly deteriorating. Pork prices are the lowest they have been in 11 years, and milk prices have dropped 40 percent over a two-year period. Farmers and agriculture cooperatives face serious cash flow problems.

The EU has taken positive steps toward solving short-term problems but we need to take more definitive action.

We need to find new market outlets for our produce, step up promotion campaigns and use export credit insurance to give traders more certainty when they export agricultural produce.

“Europe needs a strong, truly ‘common’ agricultural policy that can better respond to farmers’ concerns and ensure their competitiveness.”
The CAP also urgently needs to be simplified. Red tape stifles innovation. And here we welcome proposals by European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan to cut red tape, improve the administration of controls and give greater flexibility to member countries.

Greening practices under the CAP also need to become more flexible, in order to respond to varying ecological and climatic conditions across Europe.

We need to improve farmers’ margins in the food chain and combat unfair trading practices with EU legislation. We must pay closer attention to future markets and insurance, particularly in the dairy sector, to help protect farmers against increasing market volatility. We need to step up our efforts on research and innovation, and develop strategies to grow the economy in a green way.

The post-2020 CAP has to ensure the agriculture sector is equipped to respond to future crises. Europe needs a strong, truly “common” agricultural policy that can better respond to farmers’ concerns and ensure their competitiveness.

* * *

Europe needs to embrace, not squash innovation

Jan Huitema is a Dutch member of the European Parliament, and sits on the committee on agriculture and rural development.

People often think that not much changes in European agriculture. This is far from true. Farming is one of the most innovative economic sectors in Europe — think about drones monitoring our crops, waterbeds for cows or innovations in plant breeding. Farmers have the capacity and the knowledge to break new ground, but often find themselves limited by obsolete rules.

European agricultural policy must stop subsidizing an outdated status quo. It should foster creative solutions to lowering costs, improving competitiveness and boosting product differentiation — measures that are good for consumers and farmer alike.

“The first … is to restore farmers’ trust in the EU and include them in the debate.”
Europe’s farming industry needs to produce more and better quality products, ensure food supplies, lower its impact on the environment and improve animal welfare. The first step toward reaching these goals is to restore trust in farmers and make use of their knowledge. Nobody knows their production systems better than they do.

Farmers are made to jump through hoops to get European subsidies, but are not taken seriously in return. They know how to use cutting-edge farming practices — how to fight pests with insects, or make green-fertilizers from waste, for example — but European legislation still stands in their way.

The world is changing fast and so are our agricultural practices. We should be working together and focus on the opportunities these many new innovations can bring.

* * *

Respond with more innovation and better organization

Paolo de Castro is a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

The answer to the farming sector’s problems can’t avoid the CAP, the policy that has driven many of the sector’s changes over the last 50 years. And the CAP is at a crossroads. After a reform that should have re-launched agriculture as a pillar of the European project, we face creeping re-nationalization.

We are in the middle of a continental and global oversupply crisis requiring a coordinated European response.

Efforts over the last decade to give the CAP more “market orientation” were good in principle, but exposed farmers to global price volatility. We urgently need to find new policy tools to address a situation that risks jeopardizing the existence of a diverse EU farming sector.

“We need more effective, measurable and environmentally ambitious measures.”
Global food production has become more complex. Agricultural systems across the world have become increasingly interconnected, and farmers are told to operate with greater attention to both environmental and social issues.

Policy makers have tried to respond to these challenges by focusing on rural development and “greening” measures. But implementation increased the burden on farmers and national authorities, and hardly delivered any environmental results. We need more effective, measurable and environmentally ambitious measures.

Innovation and organization are key concepts here. Agriculture is currently one of the industries with the lowest investment rates in research and development, as well as new technology, in Europe. Innovation will depend on changing this mind-set.

Better organization should also be a key long-term objective: It is the only way to overcome the industry’s fragmentation and keep the diversity of the European agriculture alive.

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Invest in strategic thinking

Luc Vernet is co-founder at Farm Europe.

The agricultural sector needs strategic vision, and a well-structured framework for medium- and long-term action. European policy must be coherent and show real ambition to work toward growth and sustainability. It must go far beyond single-minded cost-cutting thinking.

Agriculture is at a crossroads between huge opportunity and massive pressure. Every decision must take a wide range of factors into account: citizens’ expectations, breakthrough technologies and consumption patterns, to name just a few.

At a time when populists target disillusioned farmers by citing agriculture as main concern, the European Union must urgently make agricultural policy its top priority.

“All the big global market players are developing strong policy frameworks to develop their agriculture. Europe must do the same.”
The CAP is of the only policy areas where the European Commission can act as a genuine executive power. It should demonstrate that Europe can be ambitious and still provide real safeguards.

Europe needs to develop tools that match the challenges of our time. From the U.S. to China, New Zealand and Brazil, all the big global market players are developing strong policy frameworks to develop their agriculture.

Europe must do the same, by vigorously investing in agriculture, not only through financial support but with strong strategic thinking.

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Europe needs a circular, less wasteful farming policy

Peter Stevenson is chief policy adviser at Compassion in World Farming.

The myth that we need to produce more food to feed the growing world population is driving the over-industrialization of farming. In truth, we globally already produce enough food to feed 14 billion people. Over half of what we produce is wasted — produce is thrown away, or used as biofuel and animal feed. We do not need to produce more; we simply need to reduce food waste.

Circular economy thinking should be extended to farming. Current farming is highly linear, but circular farming generates its own inputs recycles waste into productive agricultural use.

“The CAP must be replaced by a policy that not only ensures the livelihoods of farmers, but also encourages healthy choices for consumers.”

One way to do this is to move away from wasteful and inhumane industrial livestock production. Over half of EU cereals are fed to animals, and this large demand for cereals has fueled intensive crop production. This in turn encourages the rise of monocultures and agro-chemicals, and leads to water pollution, soil degradation and loss of biodiversity.

We need to change the way we treat livestock. They should be fed on pasture and by-products, or reared in integrated crop-livestock systems where animals are fed on crop residues. Reducing the use of cereals as feed would take the pressure off crop production, restore polluted waters, increase biodiversity, and replenish depleted soil through crop rotations.

The CAP must be replaced by a policy that not only ensures the livelihoods of farmers, but also encourages healthy choices for consumers — thereby lowering  current rates of obesity, heart disease and certain types of cancer — and helps to reduce farming’s carbon footprint.

EU farm crisis


EU farm crisis: Structural reforms needed to stabilise the market, MEPs say
Press Releases PLENARY SESSION 12-04-2016 - 16:41

     
The EU must come up with more decisive actions to deliver relief fast to farmers in the worst-hit sectors, such as dairy and livestock, MEPs told EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan, in Tuesday's debate on the ongoing crisis. They also called for structural reforms to better balance the supply chain, ensure fairer income for farmers and assist them to become more resilient to market shocks.

Many MEPs criticised the Commission for doing too little, too late to solve ''the worst agriculture crisis in recent decades''. Some insisted that more market interventions were needed, including at least a temporary regulation of supply, while others, claiming an attempt to liberalise the EU's agriculture had failed, advocated further market regulation and incentives for farmers to voluntarily cut production.

Several MEPs also warned national attempts to solve the crisis had proven ineffective and warned against “renationalising” EU farm policy. Some also voiced concerns about the international trade agreements that the EU is now negotiating and insisted that EU farm policy must not be used as a bargaining chip at expense of EU farmers.