Brussels, 27 November 2012

Dear Ministers,

On November 28 and 29 2012 at the AGRI Council meeting in Brussels, you will be publicly debating the legislative proposals on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – on Direct Payments, Single Common Market Organisation and Rural Development.

While strongly supporting the efforts made by the Council on these important issues, and fully recognizing the difficulties of a proper reflection of various societal demands put on agriculture and rural development, we – the European Public Health and Agriculture Consortium (EPHAC), a Brussels-based alliance of civil society and public health organisations advocating for a healthy, sustainable CAP – ask you to make sure your debates fully account for farming and food policy’s contribution to such public goods as health, sustainability and equity.

The 2011 Commission Communication on the CAP included public health as a priority and recognised the increasing focus on nutrition and sustainable consumption, as part of the larger societal issues that CAP must deliver on. However, the subsequent CAP legislative package did not go far enough in adequately addressing the radical changes that would need to be made in food production and consumption in order to mitigate and reduce the challenges of chronic diet-related disease (2), climate change and environmental impact, as well as feeding an increasing global population adequately, equitably and sustainably.

A year on, and we still see a lack of recognition of the aforementioned social considerations, which have become only more urgent amidst ongoing economic crisis, planned budget cuts, soaring food prices, vast and growing inequalities in access to nutritious foods necessary for a healthy diet among European populations and particularly vulnerable groups. We believe that agriculture and rural development is much more than just farming (usually high-risk and intensive); it is also about having efficient and interconnected local and regional food systems, communities where people live and work, access to public services, the ability to contribute to the local economy and the preservation of traditional knowledge and natural resources.

On behalf of the public health community we urge you to take these messages and use them to your advantage in making sure the legislative proposals on the CAP strengthen the health and nutritional dimensions of the food produced and consumed every day throughout the countries of Europe. We sincerely trust in your commitment to this goal.

- Open Letter to EU Ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development

(1) EPHAC is a Brussels based alliance of civil society and public health organisations advocating for a healthy, sustainable Common Agriculture Policy. EPHAC members are European Alcohol Policy Alliance, European Heart Network (EHN), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), International Diabetes Federation European Region (IDF Europe), Heart of Mersey, Sustain and National Heart Forum (NHF).

(2) Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), overweight and obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and mental health disorders pose the greatest threat to health and are a major barrier to sustainable economic and inclusive growth in Europe. Diet, along with physical activity, alcohol and tobacco consumption is one of the leading modifiable risk factors for NCDs.

EPHA related articles

- EPHAC Press Release. World Food Day – Agricultural cooperatives key to feeding the world

- CAP reform towards 2020 – has it delivered what stakeholders expected?

- ’Our food systems are making people sick’ states UN rapporteur

- EPHAC Press Release: Legislative proposals for the CAP towards 2020 do not go far enough

- article 4647

Last modified on December 3 2012.