The insight that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) needs to be revised is widespread. Most stakeholders emphasise the need for sustainability instead of a focus on agricultural productivity goals. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) takes it one step further during the Mansholt Lecture in Brussels today. The CAP should be developed into a broader Common Agriculture & Food Policy. This is needed to cope with five major challenges of society: food and nutrition security & safety, climate change & water and energy use, ecological impacts, healthy diet for a lifelong healthy lifestyle, and inequality. These challenges cannot only be solved by the farmers, but also need the commitment and behavioural change of all the other players in the food chain, including the consumer. From breeding to eating, so to say.
Five major innovation areas
Wageningen University & Research, itself involved in research and innovation, sees solutions coming from five major innovation areas: genetics, digitalisation & big data, energy & biobased transitions, chain redesign, and social innovation. This will change agriculture and the food chain in the years ahead. Which means, according to WUR, that an agricultural policy should give way to a more integrated agriculture and food policy.
The grand challenges have to be solved by all that are active in the food chain, and farmers are part of the solution. A food policy addresses public issues, and the policy dialogue should include environmental and consumer NGOs as being of equal importance as the farming community. Currently the CAP consists of two pillars. Pilar 1 enhances farm income and fosters market stability, pillar 2 concerns rural development, competitive position and innovation. The new policy should govern the resilience of the whole food chain and stimulate the interaction between consumption and production.
Five new pillars for a successful Common Agriculture & Food Policy
Wageningen University & Research suggests five new pillars for a successful Common Agriculture & Food Policy. Agriculture, food, landscape and the related environment are not a standard economic sector; the commitment of all stakeholders in society is essential and must be based on a solid understanding of how farming and food production work. Five pillars may seem to make things more difficult, but are actually making things clearer.
The people-planet-profit concept of sustainability could be used to design the first three pillars that are derived from the current CAP: there would be a pillar on income support & risk management designed to guarantee food security, a pillar on public issues & eco-system services that are not realised in imperfect markets, and a pillar on rural development to support innovation & the quality of rural life. These pillars mainly address farmers and the industries up- and downstream (input industry and food processing). A fourth pillar would deal with consumer food policy and address consumers, retail and food industry to make our diets healthier and more climate-smart. The fifth pillar should be devoted to monitoring, reflection and research.