This from ICTSD in Geneva:
Days after calling for a dramatic reorientation of European farm subsidies towards environmental protection, the French ministry for ecology and sustainable development has taken the controversial proposal off its website, following a firestorm of protest from the country’s farm lobby. Environmentalists and others, however, have praised the ideas in document. They want it to be reinstated online, and are seeking the launch of an inter-ministerial consultation process on the subject.
The 20-page proposal, entitled “Pour une politique agricole durable en 2013″ (”For a sustainable agriculture policy in 2013″) was published by the French Ministry for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea in late October. However, the news portal Euractiv.fr reported that the text was no longer available online on 4 November, two days after a farm group voiced objections.
The ministry proposes abolishing the existing two-pillar structure for farm payments, and replacing this with a series of separate policy instruments that would achieve these three goals. Income payments – determined by farm workers rather than by the number of hectares – would guarantee a minimal income. Environmental payments, linked to compliance with standards, would be covered by a second category of support. A third category, based on contracts, would help farmers move toward more ecological methods of production.
Baby steps, but surprising all the same.
On a related note – some are starting to wonder whether one silver lining of the mid-term results in the US could be that the Republicans might start to push back on US farm support, including on biofuels, as part of a broader reaction against federal subsidies. (Contrary to what you might have thought, the biggest demandeurs for farm subsidies on the Hill are often Democrats rather than Republicans. Of the five largest corn producing states, three – Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota – are generally seen as blue rather than red states.)