French President backs ‘ambitious’ CAP budget amid ‘external’ risks

“Without the CAP, Europe will not be able to make its choices to the world,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, who is calling for an “ambitious budget” for the Common Agricultural Policy.

Speaking in Paris on Saturday (February 23), the French President stated that the real risk to French farming is not from competing EU countries – but rather external matters.

“The real risk facing European agriculture is, it would be our dependence on imports of Russian phosphate fertilisers.

It is the fact that 70% of European cattle are fed on imported GM soybeans and therefore the price of our eggs, our poultry.

“It is dependent on the increase in the cost of these raw materials, which will not fall because of the increase in Chinese demand,” he said.

3 promises

The president stressed that the CAP policy must fulfil three promises for its agricultural youth.

These, he said, are: a promise of protection, farmers and consumers; a promise of transformation of the agricultural model to ever more value and ever more ecology; and a promise of anticipation by focusing on research and ensuring the renewal of generations.

Regarding the CAP budget, Macron said: “Whatever the form of the schemes deployed – quotas, direct aids – the CAP has always sought to protect farmers. For this very reason, it is a story that we must pursue.”

He also commented on France defending “an ambitious budget for the CAP in Brussels, a budget that must reflect the consequences of Brexit – but no more and not for one euro more”.

“If France defends this budget in Brussels it is above all for that, for this duty of protection, which we have vis-a-vis those who feed us, to be honored, today as yesterday.”

He added: “At the same time as we guarantee the financial means allocated to the CAP, we must, if not refound it, at least make it evolve very strongly.”

‘Real risk management strategy’

On the matter of protecting farmers and consumers, the French President said that protection involves  developing a “real risk management strategy”.

“This is what we must do now to truly protect,” he said.

This first goes through:
  •  A multiannual, reactive European crisis reserve to protect all member states from the impact of market crises;
  • Mechanisms for regulating value chains that are more efficient and easier to implement than existing ones, with in particular a better linkage between private schemes, empowering companies and public risk management tools;
  • Third, diversification of crops, production basins and support for changing practices to better adapt to climate change. It is an essential evolution and it is a policy of prevention, essential accompaniment;
  • All while maintaining the aid per hectare, which is a safety net for farmers, in addition to existing state-level schemes, such as the precautionary savings that we have just introduced in France during the last laws of finance.

“If we give in to the spirit of division, then in 5 years, in 10 years, in 15 years, we will no longer be able to guarantee our fellow citizens a healthy food, at least totally traceable and independent in Europe.

“We will no longer be able to guarantee the coherence of an environmental policy, we will impose on our producers increasingly harsh standards. But we will be dependent on inputs or power imports that do not respect the same rules.

“No farmer, no consumer wants tomorrow to be subject to standards, standards, prices and ultimately to the diktat of non-Europeans,” Macron said.