Monday, 20 June 2016 13:55

Cheap food has high price

Written by 
Lincoln University Professor of Farm Management Alison Bailey. Lincoln University Professor of Farm Management Alison Bailey.

A Lincoln University expert is warning of the cost of focusing on producing food cheaply.

A report into European farming policy 'Does the CAP still fit', co-authored by Lincoln University Professor of Farm Management Alison Bailey, says there is overwhelming evidence at local, national and global levels that food systems need to change.

The paper was for the Food Research Collaboration on the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which provides support to Europe's farmers.

She says, although the CAP is subsidy based, the report contains messages for the New Zealand farming community.

"Agricultural policy across the globe has always tried to do a number of things under the umbrella of supporting the farming community in commodity production.

"A model of one policy objective one policy tool becomes a complex mix of multiple policy objectives achieved through the implementation of additional policy tools," Bailey says.

"This never thoroughly addresses the original, nor additional, objectives."

The report says that for a number of reasons – environmental, public health, economic and social – the model of food based on producing ever more food, ever more 'cheaply', has had serious negative impacts.

This includes the environmental costs of intensive farming and biodiversity loss, while overall food production is a major cause of climate change.

This is true for both Europe and New Zealand, Professor Bailey says.

The report calls for the CAP to move away from focusing on farming to become a Common Food Policy.

"We should not continue to eat diets which add to climate change, pile on costly burdens of disease, and maintain a fantasy that food systems can continue to be fossil-fuel based in an era of rapid climate change."

CAP was still too focused on farming when it needs to reconnect with public health, ecosystems and feeding people well, Professor Bailey says.

The United Kingdom, like all European Union (EU) member states, needs to review its entire food system, regardless of the outcome of the upcoming referendum on EU membership, the report says.

Bailey says New Zealand could well do the same.

To access Does the CAP fit? Go to 

More like this

Cows part of the solution

New Lincoln University pastoral livestock production lab research is defining how to get the maximum benefit from cows predisposed to urinate nitrogen (N), resulting in less leaching to waterways.

Lincoln launches new research

Three new farming systems are being implemented to expand Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s (LUDF) focus and extend its outlook through to 2030.

Keeping an eye out for water-logged paddocks

Surface ponding water is the factor that has the most effect on cows' lying time - and hence animal welfare - in winter grazing paddocks, says DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley.

Start recording your fert usage

Farmers need to start now keeping accurate and detailed records of their fertiliser use to meet new pastoral nitrogen limits, says Ravensdown’s Phil Barlow.


Tatua smashes $10 barrier

Waikato milk processor Tatua says keeping products moving to overseas customers during the pandemic was one of the highlights of…

New regs boost Massey Ag course enrolments

Demand for expertise in sustainable nutrient management, environmental planning and improved freshwater outcomes has seen Massey University's range of agricultural…

Machinery & Products

Keeping everyone safe

As tractors get larger and front linkage kits become more common, many have started fitting underrun or collision protection systems.

Keeping stock and drivers safe

Livestock haulers are a crucial link in the New Zealand agriculture supply chain, transporting stock onto or between farms, to…

Making lamb marking easy

Designed by a sheep and beef farmer, Vetmarkers are made in New Zealand and sold around the world.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Flag it!

OPINION: Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O'Connor tried to keep his latest overseas jaunt secret squirrel.

Oh dear!

OPINION: This old mutt suggests that farmers' growing discontent with Beef+Lamb NZ's performance is going to reach fever peak after…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter