Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - Seventh Report
Implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy in England 2014-2020
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - Seventh Report
Implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy in England 2014-2020
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee
Select Committee Announcement
One of Defra’s three main priorities is to support and develop British farming and encourage sustainable food production. The UK has a highly successful agricultural industry, and the food and drink sector is responsible for 3.7 million jobs and 7% of the overall economy. It is 62% self-sufficient in food production. However many domestic and international factors affect both production and prices for consumers as became evident during the world food price spike of 2008.
Globally, climate change, population growth, energy supply and water security are all putting pressure on food production and have the potential to lead to higher food prices. In the UK, food price inflation was 3.1% in 2012 rising to 4.4% by the middle of 2013.
The new UK Strategy for Agricultural Technologies seeks to exploit opportunities to develop and adopt new and existing technologies, products and services to increase productivity. GM technology is one option. Supporters argue that it has the potential to increase crop yields and contribute to a more resilient agricultural system. Others fear the unknown long-term environmental implications of this technology.
The Committee last looked into food security in 2009. This inquiry will follow up many of the issues raised then.
The Committee invites written evidence on the following issues:· How best to improve UK (and EU) food security, including using resources more efficiently;· The relationship between the price of food and the cost of producing it;· The implications of volatility in global food supply and demand for UK food security;· The potential value and contribution of science and GM technology to UK food security.· How food and farming supply chains, and the current systems for traceability, can contribute to increased resilience;· Whether climate change risks are adequately incorporated in UK food security strategies and planning;· The obstacles facing food producers, including small farmers, seeking to increase production and access new markets; and· Ways of increasing self sufficiency in products for which the UK has a comparative advantage;
EFRA COMMITTEE ANNOUNCE EVIDENCE LINE-UP FOR INQUIRY INTO IMPLEMENTATION OF CAP
On 26 June 2013 the European Parliament, Council of Ministers and the European Commission reached an agreement on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2013. Details carried over from the June negotiations were concluded on 24 September 2013 though legal texts remain to be drawn up.
The promise from EU leaders was for a ‘greener, fairer and less bureaucratic CAP’. The resulting agreement leaves a great deal of flexibility for Member States to implement the reforms in a way which suits them.The EFRA Committee is undertaking an inquiry to consider the options Defra has for implementing the new CAP in England. As part of this inquiry the Committee will take oral evidence as follows:
Environmental Audit Select CommitteeHouse of Commons announcementNEW INQUIRY LAUNCHED ON:BIODIVERSITY OFFSETTING
The Environmental Audit Committee has launched a new inquiry into the Government consultation on Biodiversity offsetting in England, which proposes to introduce a system for allowing biodiversity loss associated with developments to be measured and offset against compensatory biodiversity gain elsewhere.
This inquiry relates to a wider ongoing inquiry by the Committee on Well-being. In that inquiry we have already taken evidence from Professor Dieter Helm, chair of the Natural Capital Committee, which included some discussion of the scope for biodiversity offsetting.
The Committee will take oral evidence on 23 October 2013 (details will be announced later), and is inviting written evidence on the Government’s proposals by Tuesday 15 October 2013, although later submissions may also be accepted.
To mark the week of World Food Day, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology will be holding two meetings.
The theme for World Food Day (October 16th) this year is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition”. In recognition of this the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology will be hosting two meetings in that week addressing how agroecology, as a sustainable food system, contributes to these aims and how agroecological techniques can be supportedand expanded.
On Tuesday October 15th, there will be a meeting looking at “Using food waste as pig feed”, with speakers including Tristram Stuart (Feeding the 5000), Philip Lymbery (Compassion in World Farming) and Simon Fairlie (author of Meat: A Benign Extravagance).
On Wednesday October 16th, the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, based at Coventry University, will launch their report “Mainstreaming Agroecology: Implications for Global Food and Farming Systems”
Protecting and enhancing our natural environment, including our plants and forests, and safeguarding animal health, through high standards of animal health and welfare, are crucial to our quality of life and long-term economic success. Food production and processing industries, which have good growth prospects, must be supported whilst ensuring the levels of protection that consumers rightly expect. The Red Tape Challenge does not signal a change to any of our present policy objectives or a weakening of existing protections, including those on animal welfare. The “challenge” is to make sure that our policies and regulations are being implemented in the most efficient and effective ways possible, for example by taking advantage of modern practice and technology and removing unnecessary or ineffective process.
We’ve already made a good start. For example, in responding to the Farming Regulation Task Force recommendations, we are looking to target farm inspections better so farmers who consistently demonstrate high standards will be inspected less, reduce the amount of paperwork for farmers and consider ways in which the Livestock Movements Regime might be simplified. We must now review the regulations underpinning the Task Force work to remove or simplify unnecessary or outdated requirements.
We must also ensure that the burden of EU regulation is kept to a minimum and existing gold-plating is removed, except where there are strong benefits to the UK from its retention.
This is your opportunity to help us create a clearer and simpler regulatory landscape. Let us know where rules overlap, are too complicated or are now redundant. Tell us where there is scope for making regulation more efficient and how we can improve guidance and the implementation of rules on the ground.
This theme is open for comment until 3 September 2013. To contribute, click on the subcategories below and comment on the areas most relevant to you, or send a private contribution by clicking here.
The purpose of the meeting is to look at new information on the safety of GM crops and how well (or not) it is assessed by regulators. The speakers will be: a working pig farmer who has had firsthand experience of possible side effects of GM feed); two scientists who have unearthed new evidence on the safety of GM crops; and an academic specialising in risk assessment and public perception.
Current procedures for reviewing new evidence have been criticised for not being thorough enough or for not building on new evidence with further research. There is an over reliance on industry sponsored post market monitoring and rigid safety testing procedures. And a tendency to ignore or dismiss findings from independent scientists.
Even when new evidence is clear, for example Monarch butterfly numbers declining in the US due to the larval food plant being reduced by herbicide tolerant crops being sprayed with Roundup, there is no apparent action taken to reduce the harm being observed.
As a follow up to the meeting Parliamentary Questions if you have any suggestions for questions to government, please send them to email@example.com.
Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini (University of Caen)
Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini is Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Caen and resident of the CRII-GEN Scientific Board (Committee of Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering). He has earned numerous accolades for his expertise on GMO and his activities in favour of an independent and ethical scientific evaluation of the technology.
His ground-breaking 2012 study found that rats fed with Monsanto’s GM NK603 maize and tiny amounts of Roundup pesticide suffered severe organ damage and increased risk of tumours and premature death. This is the most detailed long-term independent study on which the product was trialled to date.
Ib Borup Pedersen (Danish pig farmer)
Ib Pedersen is a Danish farmer who found digestive and reproductive problems in his pigs when they ate GM feed. Ib has taken part in a film showing how these same defects are suffered by humans who live near the fields where Ib’s pig food is grown.
When Ib switched to non-GM feed, he documented longer lifespans, and less defects in his pigs. Ib’s experience shows the real effects from a GM diet, outside of a laboratory, that potentially put people and livestock at risk.
Professor Brian Wynne (Lancaster University)
Brian Wynne is Professor of Science Studies at CSEC and at the ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen).
His education includes MA (Natural Sciences, Cambridge 1968), PhD (Materials Science, Cambridge 1971), MPhil (Sociology of Science, Edinburgh 1977). His work has covered technology and risk assessment, public risk perceptions, and public understanding of science, focusing on the relations between expert and lay knowledge and policy decision-making. He was an Inaugural Member of the Management Board and Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency, (EEA), (1994-2000) and a Special Adviser to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry into Science and Society, (March 2000). He is also a member of the London Royal Society’s Committee on Science in Society.
Dr Jonathan Latham (Bioscience Resource Project)
Jonathan R Latham, PhD is co-founder and Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project; Dr. Latham holds a Masters degree in Crop Genetics and a PhD in Virology. He was subsequently a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Prior to heading the Bioscience Resource Project he published scientific papers in disciplines as diverse as plant ecology, plant virology, molecular biology, and genetics. He regularly presents at scientific conferences on papers published by the Bioscience Resource Project. He is also a fellow of the 21st Century Trust.
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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeSelect Committee AnnouncementGIVE RURAL COMMUNITIES A FAIR DEAL MPs URGE GOVERNMENT
Government policy too often fails to take account of the challenges to providing services for people living in rural communities, say MPs.
In an inquiry scrutinising Defra and its Rural Communities Policy Unit, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee finds that much more needs to be done if Defra is to achieve its target of ‘fair, practical and affordable outcomes for rural residents, businesses and communities’.
Today publishing her Committee’s report Rural Communities (HC 602), the Chair of the Committee, Anne McIntosh MP, said:
“The Government needs to recognise that the current system of calculating the local government finance settlement is deeply unfair to rural areas in comparison with their urban counterparts. This is unacceptable.“Rural communities pay more in council tax, receive less government grant and have access to fewer public services than people in large towns and cities.“Defra must work with colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government to ensure that future settlements recognise the premium that exists in the provision of services to rural areas.”School funding
The extra cost of providing services to rural communities is evident across the public sector. Yet, in 2012-13 rural local authorities received less than half the per head funding that urban authorities got. In areas such as education the Government is reducing local authorities’ flexibility to allocate extra funding to small rural schools with higher running costs.
Anne McIntosh added:
“The Government’s changes to the school funding system reduce local authorities’ ability to vary lump sum payments to schools according to need. This is a backward step. Furthermore, while we welcome the introduction of sparsity funding in principle, local authorities must be given more flexibility to decide the criteria to apply it.”
Rural businesses, schools and households have fallen behind their urban counterparts when it comes to broadband access. The Government’s Rural Broadband Programme is running nearly two years behind schedule. The roll-out of superfast broadband to 90% of rural areas will be delivered late and it is unclear when the target of universal access to 2Mbps broadband will be achieved.
Anne McIntosh said:
“Broadband has become a basic utility yet thousands of people in rural communities have ridiculously slow speeds or no connection at all. The Universal Service Commitment of 2Mbps is crucial and meeting it must be prioritised over increasing speeds for those who already enjoy an adequate service. The Government must be clear when broadband will be available to those currently without access.“To expedite the roll-out of superfast broadband the Government must publish details showing precisely what areas will be covered by BT under the Rural Broadband Programme in order to allow alternative providers to fill in the gaps.”
In August 2012 it was announced that the BBC would contribute £300 million towards the roll-out of rural broadband from 2015.
Anne McIntosh added:
“The Government has known about the money from the BBC for some time and has no excuse to delay using it when it becomes available.“Given the problems with the existing Rural Broadband Programme we believe the £300 million from the BBC would be best used as a lever to encourage private and community sector capital and expertise to further the roll-out of superfast broadband to rural communities.”Mobile
The lack of mobile phone coverage in large parts of the countryside is unacceptable. The Mobile Infrastructure Project aims to help 60,000 premises currently in voice ‘not-spots’ but this is a significant reduction in scale from the project’s original aim of extending coverage to up to six million people. The revised scheme may also do little to improve geographic coverage. Almost 30% of England lacks 2G coverage from all four of the main mobile phone operators – this figure rises to nearly 70% for 3G services.
Anne McIntosh said:
“We are concerned that in focusing on reducing the number of premises in ‘not-spots’, which may already have landline access, large parts of the countryside and those who work in it may still be left without access to mobile technology.”
Parts of rural England can be some of the most unaffordable places to live in the country. On average people working in rural areas earn less than those working in urban areas but rural homes are more expensive than urban ones. According to Halifax rural house prices have risen 35% faster in the countryside than in urban areas over the last decade – the average rural house price is now £30,000 higher than its urban equivalent.
Anne McIntosh said:
“Rural England desperately needs more affordable housing yet the Government’s housing policies pay insufficient regard to the needs of rural communities.
“Failure to provide more of the right housing, at the right price and in the right place will exacerbate the existing problems of unaffordability and inequality in parts of rural England”Rural Economy
Defra has made growing the rural economy its top priority, but barriers to be overcome include improving rural businesses’ access to finance.Anne McIntosh said:
“The Government must ensure that initiatives that offer financial support to the business sector such as the forthcoming Business Bank and the Single Local Growth Fund are as available to rural businesses as they are to their urban counterparts.”
Further details of the Committee’s inquiry can be found on the inquiry page of the Committee’s website.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeSelect Committee Announcement18 July 2013Committee announces new inquiryCAP implementation 2014-2020On 26 July 2013 the European Parliament, Council of Ministers and the European Commission reached an agreement on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post 2013. While some aspects of the reform will be applicable from 1 January 2014, the majority, including the new payments structure, will apply from 2015 in order to allow Member States time to inform farmers about new arrangements and to adapt computer-based CAP management systems.
The promise from EU leaders was for a ‘greener, fairer and less bureaucratic CAP’. The resulting agreement leaves a great deal of flexibility for Member States to implement the reforms in a way which suits them. Furthermore, final decision on issues such as capping payments, co-financing, and the transfer of funds between pillars have been held over until the negotiations on the wider EU budget this autumn.
The EFRA Committee has agreed to undertake an inquiry to explore how the Government might implement the reformed Common Agricultural Policy in England.
The Committee seeks written evidence on the following:Fairness· Whether the UK’s implementation of CAP might put English farmers at a competitive disadvantage to their regional and European counterparts
- What steps the Government might take in implementing CAP to help tenant farmers and farmers in upland areas, and to take account of issues pertaining to common land
- How might the Government define the minimum activity required for qualification as an ‘active farmer’
- How should the Government ensure that CAP delivers the best environmental benefits while supporting food productionBureaucracy· What steps does the Government need to take to ensure the reformed CAP will be less bureaucratic than its predecessor and what might prevent this ambition from being achievedGreening
- What are the principal lessons the Government should learn from the implementation of the previous CAP
Notes on submission of evidence
Written submissions for this inquiry should be submitted via the CAP implementation 2014-2020 inquiry page on the Environment, Food and rural Affairs website.
The deadline is Wednesday 9 October 2013. As a guideline submissions should state clearly who the submission is from e.g. ‘Written evidence submitted by xxxx’ and be no longer than 3000 words, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this.
Submissions must be a self-contained memorandum in Word or Rich Text Format (not pdfs). Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary.
Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.
The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing. The Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act.NOTES TO EDITORS:Media Enquiries: Nicholas Davies: Tel: 020 7219 8430 Email: daviesnick@parliament.
ukCommittee Website: www.parliament.uk/ efracom
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tvPublications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found onwww.parliament.uk
FURTHER INFORMATION:Committee Membership is as follows: Miss Anne McIntosh (Chair), Richard Drax, George Eustice, Barry Gardiner, Mrs Mary Glindon, Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck, Iain McKenzie, Sheryll Murray, Ms Margaret Ritchie, Neil Parish, Dan RogersonSpecific Committee Information: efracom@
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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs CommitteeSelect Committee Announcement16 July 2013THE ROLE OF THE FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY MUST BE CLEARER
There was a lack of clarity about the role of the FSA in responding to the contamination of beef products, says the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee today.
Launching the Food Contamination report, Committe
e Chair, Anne McIntosh MP, said:
“The Committee agrees that Ministers must be responsible for policy, but there was confusion about where responsibility lay for responding to the horse meat discovery. We urge the Government to reconsider the machinery of government changes it made in 2010 and make the FSA one step removed from the Government departments it reports to.”Those responsible for the horsemeat scandal must be identified and prosecuted in order to restore consumer confidence in the UK’s frozen meat sector, according to MPs.
In report examining lessons from the meat contamination incident, the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee expressed concern that no prosecutions have yet been brought, despite clear evidence of organised fraud in the meat supply chain.
Chair of the Committee Anne McIntosh MP has said:
“The evidence suggests a complex network of companies trading in and mislabelling beef or beef products which is fraudulent and illegal.”“We are dismayed at the slow pace of investigations and seek assurances that prosecutions will be mounted where there is evidence of fraud or illegality.”
Although the fraud proved not as extensive as originally feared, it has reduced consumer confidence in frozen and processed meats, such as frozen burgers. Although few samples eventually proved negative, the worst example found more than a quarter of a supermarket burger was horse instead of beef.“Retailers and meat processors should be more vigilant against the risk of deliberate adulteration. Regular and detailed DNA tests are needed on all meat or meat-based ingredients which form part of a processed or frozen meat product. Consumers need to know that what they buy is what the label says it is.” said Anne McIntosh.
The Committee was also surprised by the comparatively large number of horse carcasses from the UK which tested positive for the veterinary drug bute. It argues that a newly introduced system for testing horses for bute before they are released to the food system must continue with government and industry sharing the cost.
The Committee recommends a number of changes to the food regulation system in the UK:· The Food Standards Agency must be a more effective regulator of industry and be given powers to compel industry to carry out food testing when needed;· Large retailers must carry out regular DNA testing of meat ingredients for frozen and processed meat products, with the costs borne by industry and not consumers;· All test results must be submitted to the FSA and a summary published on the retailers’ website;· The present system for issuing horse passports must change and a single national database be established in all EU Member States;· The FSA should have powers to ensure all local authorities carry out some food sampling each year;· Local authorities should adopt targeted sampling—testing from time to time products which might be contaminated without requiring intelligence to support it;· The Government should ensure there are sufficient, properly trained public analysts in the UK;· There should be better communication about the role of the FSA so that there is no uncertainty in future about who is responsible for responding to similar incidents;
- The FSA should ensure channels of communication with devolved administrations and its EU counter parts are open and encourage sharing of information.“The FSA must become a more efficient and effective regulator and be seen to be independent of industry. It must have the power to be able to compel industry to carry out tests when needed. It must also be more innovative in its testing regime and vigilant in ensuring every local authority carries out regular food sampling,” said Anne McIntosh.