Monday, November 28, 2005

CAP WARS The Phantom Menace

A not so long long ago in a not so much of a far far away galaxy. CAP looked like it was going to go and this was a great thing for the world but all is not well in the galaxy………

The economics of removing CAP do make sense. The free market is the fairest way for world trade to work. Countries in Africa, Asia and South America can often produce food at a cheaper price then we here in Europe can. Thus consumers would choose their products and we all save money. Then this money can be spent on more products making more jobs (to compensate for the jobs lost in agriculture) etc. Even though some fresh products such as milk would probably go up in price (ever notice that water is dearer then milk) the overall effect for the consumer and economy would be positive. Also the money saved by the EU could be pumped into public transport and infrastructure to cater for the increase in urban population.

€9.4 billion worth of agricultural trade comes some of the world's poorest countries with preferential access to EU markets these countries would be also be hit by the removal of barriers. Farming has low profit margins. So to make a profit without CAP would involve consolidations of farmers and GM corps (organic crops in Ireland ain’t going to happen without subsidies or high prices.).

The vastly more efficient agribusiness sector in America with the economies of scale that farms there works at, These corporation run farms may still be able to undercut the third world countries farmers. In Europe farming is still a family business as CAP makes it economical for family farming to exist. Also for instance in Ireland large corporations do not control the market. Most of the farming companies are Co-ops owned by the farmers or in the case of corporations like Kerry Group their main shareholders are the farmers they source their produce from and so act in there interest.

The removal of the barriers will force many farmers to sell up and leave agriculture resulting in consolidation and European farming reverting to the American model of consolidation(in 1999 80% of beef production in America was controlled by 3 companies), high value, low margin and low quality. This may result in even more cheap food under cutting third world countries farmers. What will happen would probably be consolidation of world agriculture. To compete with the consolidated western farms developing farmers must also consolidate into corporation farms run probably by western companies. It is wrong to presume it is a win win situation for the third world. The winner will probably be big business and consumers.

wulfbeorn said “All those people who marched with the IFA through Mallow over the weekend were not marching for the freedom to grow beet or protection of their individual rights as beet farmers. That is not what it was about. It was about their right to live off the rest of the population in the EU, off the taxes taken from everyone else by force.” While I think the word force is wrong and the difficulty and sacrifices made to run a farm are more then most jobs so it is not quiet “living off”. But I agree with his basic point that while they were marching for their survival that survival depends largely on living off the state. However where the whole anti-CAP thing is not beneficial is rural life, security, health and ecological.

Make no bones about it the abolition of CAP would kill off rural life. Fact. Don’t talk to me about reskilling upskilling rejuvenation etc etc. The simple matter of the fact is that rural life would die. No companies are going to open up technological plants in Ballygobackwards simple. So people will be force to move to cities to look for work. And leave the countryside devoid of people. Much land will simply be abandoned. Family Farming in Europe can not out price Family farming in Latin America and Africa. The small farmer will be gone.

Hedgerows in Ireland are vital to animal and plant life in this country. When farms are consolidated these hedgerows will be destroyed causing an ecological disaster

Food produced intensively as large scale farming demands tends to be produce in feed lots and broilers(battery hens gaffs).These animals have higher saturated fat, less vitamins and less of the stuff Flora advertisements, Team Actimal and organic food enthusiasts go on about, compared to animals that are grass fed. This will increase the obesity epidemic in the west as the poor will not be able pay higher prices for organic or normally produced food.

The president of America George W Bush once said that water is essential to our survival. So he can say that I feel I can say something equally blatantly obvious. Food is essential to our survival. After World War II 40% of food in Europe came from America CAP was brought in to make Europe self sufficient.

So imagine this future. We rely on Latin America for the majority of our food here in the EU. And this is great we live in utopian Eddie Hobbs world of low prices for all. We all have money and everything is great. Then Argentina declares war on Brazil. This destabilise the entire region borders are closed armies mobilised and all Latin American countries go on a war footing. So suddenly there are no more Argentinean steaks landing in ports. What happens then when Europe suffers a lack of food? Economic crash? public unrests? Me saying told you so? (joke I never throw it back in peoples faces honest) Famine ? War? Who knows but we may regret destroying European agriculture then. The Dutch Agriculture minister Cees Veerman said “We have to ensure 1.2 billion meals every 24 hours in Europe We don't want to be dependent on other regions of the world for food the way we are for oil."

Maybe we could use the money saved to build an army to take over countries for their food. There is more then economics and farmers rights to CAP. What measures are taken to dissolve CAP need to be carefully done. To act rashly would be foolish.

CAP WARS The Trade Wars. Coming to a blog near you when I get around to it.

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