Council on Food and Agriculture Security
Letter From the Director:
We are so excited to welcome you to Yale Model Government Europe in Budapest. The Polish Cabinet has a large task this year, as it will be working to ease relations with the European Union. My name is Hailee Gibadlo and I am a sophomore in Morse College. I am originally from a quaint Massachusetts town known as Amesbury. This past summer I traveled outside of the United States for the first time to the Kingdom of Bhutan as a participant in a study abroad program through the School for Field Studies. My time in Budapest will be only my second time out of the U.S. and my first time in Europe!
My prospective major is ecology and evolutionary biology. Here at Yale I hold a student job in the herbarium, I am an active member of club running, and I am a member of the Yale International Relations Association (obviously!). I am also part of VARSITY (Vegan and Allergen Restricted Sweets in the Tummies of Yalies) Baking Club, which works to bake allergen friendly goodies for and with the Yale population. In my spare time you can find me scoping out the best coffee in New Haven, showing off my plant ID skills in East Rock park, or streaming Hulu for my favorite TV shows.
Committee History and Policies:
The food and agriculture security sector of the European Commission deals with problems concerning agriculture and food security to ensure people are well fed and nourished throughout the EU and abroad. They help to fund and support projects that ensure agricultural development, as many people in poverty rely on agriculture as a main source of income throughout the world. Around 90 percent of the population in many developing countries relies on agriculture and food production for income. The two main sub-missions of the council are the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development sub-committee and the Food and Nutrition sub-committee. Both projects are centrally focused around the ideas of reducing poverty and increasing food security for the world’s citizens.
The goal of the food and nutrition security sector is to fight malnutrition and ensure healthy, and affordable food for europe and abroad. Similarly, the committee helps to strengthen countries against food shortages to ensure that people do not go hungry. Many people in sub-saharan Africa and Asia are faced with malnutrition and food security issues. Most of the time, this hunger is not caused by lack of food, but by soaring food prices. It is the European Union’s goal, along with the World Health Assembly to help decrease growth stunting in children under the age of five by 2025, in developing countries. From the 1990s, world hunger has been declining, but the rate is often slow and people continue to go hungry every day. The EU has also set up a framework in 2010 for tackling issues involving world hunger, both domestically and abroad. The policy helps to set guidelines for approaching hunger in developing countries, outlined by four pillars set forth at the 1996 World Food Summit:
“Increasing availability of food;
Improving access to food;
Improving nutritional adequacy of food intake;
Enhancing crisis prevention and management.”
This framework helps guide the goals and strategies the committee approaches to facing malnutrition and hunger.
The initiatives the food and nutrition committee addresses cover a variety of areas and angles that contribute to the hunger problem. The first thing to adress is agriculture. As the world population increases, more strain will be put on the industry to produce more food. As hunger is already a problem, agriculture must be adapted in ways that offer more sustainable production and higher yields. Although, increasing food production does not always guarantee food goes to the hungry which means that the EU also recognizes the need to reduce poverty by supporting local communities in developing countries to improve employment opportunities. Better employment options with higher incomes help to ensure that people will be able to buy food. A specific focus on also aiming to combat undernutrition in children is also being taken by the EU. The food and nutrition sector has already pledged to donate 3.5 billion euros to the cause of decreasing undernutrition in children under five between 2014 and 2020. The EU has taken an instrumental role in helping to foster political and economic support for countries dealing with undernutrition and will continue to do so through their food and nutrition mission.
The second sector the Food and Agriculture security council focuses on is known as the sustainable agriculture and rural development sub-committee. This sector focuses on sustainable development and investment in rural areas, where many poor households exist as farmers. Approximately three-quarters of the world’s population lives in rural areas and the majority relies on agriculture. Helping these poor and sometimes small-scale farmers increases community development and can help increase nutrition and food security. The dire consequences of agriculture such as climate change and the need for more food puts stress on the future of production. By investing in developing countries’ farmers, the goal of the EU is to increase sustainability for a better world, to decrease the poverty of the farmers, and to increase food and nutrition security. One such focus of the EU for helping to achieve the aforementioned sustainability goals, is to increase investments in agricultural smallholdings. There is proof in the fact that support for small scale operations has the highest return for reducing poverty and promoting growth. Similarly, the EU backs countries by supporting certain activities pertaining to social development, environmental sustainability, and agricultural research. This focus on sustainable agriculture and rural development is applicable abroad or domestically in Europe.
The commission on Food and Agriculture also helps to regulate and deal with different topics within the European Union pertaining to food safety and agriculture on the domestic scale. The food safety policy in the EU involves all levels of production, from agriculture to the sale of food. On the most basic level EU policy requires safe and healthy food for livestock, high quality animal welfare and plant protection, and clear labeling on food about where it came from. All of the legislation to ensure safe and nutritious products is based on sound scientific evidence and enforced by the EU. The EU ensures enforcement of its policies by member states by making countries incorporate EU food laws into their constitutions. The EU also has a Food and Veterinary office to conduct inspections of food production within and outside of the EU. The commission also has systems and committees in place to ensure the quickest route of action in the event of a food safety scare. There is a rapid early warning system, known as the RASFF, which alerts people about food that is not conjunct with EU rules. This system also detects whether a food product may contain unhealthy substances, such as carcinogens or high levels of pesticides. Stopping shipments from farms or ports of entry and recalling products from warehouses or stores are two courses of action taken when a product that compromises food safety is spotted. When there is an outbreak of disease or food poisoning, EU officials are able to trace the origin all the back to the production chain. TRACES (Trade Control and Expert System), is an electronic system of border controls and certification for goods that is used in tracing and risk-management situations.
Figure 4. An infographic showing the percentage of organic farming in the EU, one example of a more sustainable approach to agriculture.
The European Union Food and Agriculture Commission also has a list of sound laws and systems in place to ensure safe and sustainable agricultural practices can thrive in Europe. A few basic components of the EU farm policy includes laws that help to invest in modernizing farms, sustain rural communities and help people keep jobs, and protect the environment. In recent years, farm policy has shifted to suit farmers needs and public demand. Farmers now base their production on market demand and not on EU law, as previously done. Recent reforms taken in 2013 have reflected a shift towards more sustainable farming practices, more research and better dissemination of knowledge, and better support and larger roles for farmers in the food system. Other promotions by the EU include innovations in farming, to help reduce environmental footprints and increase food productivity. This previous initiative is important because the world food productivity will need to double by 2050 in order to feed the world’s rapidly growing population. At the same time, the increasing risk of climate change poses a challenge to farmers and the EU alike to advance in more sustainable and sophisticated farming practices.
Figure 5. An infographic showing the number related to the growth and well-being of European agriculture.
The EU also plays a key role in funding farming among the member states. In this way, agriculture is not solely the responsibility of the member states but a responsibility of the EU as a whole. The EU controls both financial and political areas relating to agriculture. Today, farming eonly makes up 38 percent of the EU budget. This is large percentage, but a sharp decline from spending in the 1970s which made up 70 percent of farm spending. Since 2004, the EU has added 13 new member states with no rise in the budget. This is a reflection of the need for allocation elsewhere and the refining of certain policies.
Questions to Consider
• Based on the EU policies, what seems like some important goals for the Food and Agriculture commision to have?
• The need to combat hunger and poverty is apparent, how might the EU protect its most vulnerable citizens in a time of crisis? In other words, how do they ensure the poor and hungry do not suffer first?
•What other innovative ways can the EU help support sustainable farming practices?
• Brainstorm some possible crisis that you may be dealing with in relation to food and agriculture ( ie. food shortage, etc.). How might the aforementioned EU policies help or restrict what you may be able to do?
Suggestions for Further Research
The Food and Agriculture committee will be dealing with a crisis that will be unknown until you are at the conference. The best way to prepare is to look at past or impending problems the EU has dealt with. This can be done by researching on news outlets or on the EU website itself. Think about the course of action a power like the EU may take in the event of a crisis concerning food or agriculture.