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The Food Policy Masterplan

Europe has a longstanding tradition of supporting agriculture to secure our food supply, especially after World War II. The European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), founded in 1962, still gives shape to today's agricultural system.

But the face of farming has changed over the past 50 years, and we're moving from a focus on quantity, to quality. That  also means we are in need of a new Masterplan! And 2012 is the year to think about new directions for the CAP, since it will be revised in 2013. Today's Great Agricultural Debate brings together the past, present and future of agricultural policy. Young farmers, policymakers and researchers are invited on stage, and moderator Ruben Maes challenges them, and the public, to come up with practical recommendations for the future of the CAP.

Before speaking about the future, we need to understand a little about the past of the CAP. The CAP originates from an era where food safety was most important, whereas a future-oriented agricultural policy demands a strategy that guarantees not to use resources beyond our means ('green'),  food safety ('health') and a fair distribution ('sufficiency').

To illustrate the reality of today's daily happenings at a farm, Ruben invited two young farmers to the stage. Boy Griffioen, an innovative and organic farmer who produces not only milk, but also cheese, and Dennis Minnen, a more conventional, yet open-minded livestock farmer. Boy stresses that the future of farming lies with diversification and he speaks to a niche market of critical consumers. "I might be a little romantic, but I try to align my ideals with the daily practice at the farm". Dennis gives us a crash course farming, "it's hard work, you really need to be entrepreneurial and innovative - but that also makes it rewarding". 

How do their stories foreshadow the future of CAP? Politician Bas Eickhout from the Green Party summarized it as "the need for farmers to earn their subsidies by being entrepreneurial". Jaap Seidell, nutrition and health expert, advises the CAP to foster the connection between city and farmland, and most importantly, "to design the CAP so that it stimulates healthy eating, fostering a plant-based diet over a meat- and dairy-based diet".

The debate serves as inspirational input for the Youth Food Movement's CAP 2013 campaign - and the core message that radiates from the stage today is that we should transform an agricultural policy, into a food policy. Because how can an agricultural policy not be focused on providing a healthy future for the all of us?

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