Public policy is answer to high food prices

28th April 2008, Comments 0 comments

French agriculture minster says bloc’s Common Agriculture Policy will help solve the current food crisis.

28 April 2008

LONDON - Regional versions of the EU's agriculture policy for Africa and Latin America would help solve the current food price crisis, France's agriculture minister said in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Michel Barnier said the bloc's Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), or farm subsidy system, was not to blame for the "disorder" in global food prices.

Instead, he blamed "too much free-market liberalism" for the rising prices, adding: "We can't leave feeding people to the mercy of the market. We need a public policy, a means of intervention and stabilisation.

Food prices have been spiralling due to the use of certain foods in biofuels to combat climate change, rising populations, strong demand from developing countries, and increasing floods and droughts as a result of climate change.

"I think (the CAP) is a good model," Barnier told the business daily.

"It is a policy that allows us to produce to feed ourselves. We pool our resources to support production. West Africa, East Africa, Latin America and the southern shore of the Mediterranean all need regional common agricultural policies."

He said the EU should provide funds and its own expertise to help set up such regional farm subsidy systems.

France, Europe's biggest farming power, has led a battle in recent years against growing calls by Britain to reduce EU farm spending in order to direct more funds towards such things as research and education.

Despite reforms, farm hand-outs remain the single biggest spending item in the combined EU budget, swallowing up about 40 percent of the whole.

On the potential for a global trade deal helping contain food prices, Barnier said he was "not sure" such a forum provided "the right place to discuss the relationship between food and agriculture".

[AFP / Expatica]

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