Financial Crisis Must Not Be Repeated In Food Chain

10 June 2010
SNP MEP Alyn Smith yesterday (Wednesday) led discussions in the European Parliament on the shape of the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Smith, taking part in the conference 'CAP 2020: Green Growth or Green Deal?', addressed the meeting and led calls for food production to be recognised as the overriding public good and primary objective as CAP reform discussions move forward.

Speaking at the conference, Smith said:

"Over the years the CAP has become too complicated and convoluted, and we must remember a few key objectives.

"For me, the overriding objective of the CAP is food production. I have some fears that there are those who would like to see a future CAP which would relegate food production to a secondary concern behind the protection and preservation of our natural environment. While the role that farmers play in developing and maintaining our natural environment and landscape is of undeniable importance, the primary purpose of farming is the production of food, and all else is secondary.

"More worrying is the fact that the global food supply chain is based on two assumptions, which we cannot take for granted.  Functioning food supply chains cannot be taken for granted and the ash cloud has been a handy reminder of that, and cheap energy prices will not last much longer.  Food security is an integral part of our national security, our national European security, and it is incumbent upon us as legislators to ensure that we learn the lessons from the financial crisis and apply them to the CAP.

"When the global financial structure was under massive strain, it was only after the interbank lending market broke down that most people noticed there was a problem.  Now we have had people killed in Greece and, even today, marches in Spain, and turmoil worldwide.  That was the financial system, imagine if the food supply chain broke down - we would have riots in our streets.  If we do not protect and encourage our own domestic agricultural sector then food riots are not as far away as we like to think.

"Of course, in tandem with that need comes the need to avoid exporting our decisions to third countries, especially in the developing world, and this will take a major reform of our trading rules.  But a necessary one, we have seen very one-sided trade patterns between the developing world and the EU, and we should recognise that if food sovereignty and food security is our democratic right, then it is the right of others as well."