The aim is clear enough – how do we make sure that farmers earn a decent income in the face of all the outside pressures affecting them?

The EU (or more to the point the President of the EU Commission) has set up this latest strategic dialogue under the chairmanship of Prof Peter Strohschneider to come up with a blueprint for European farming that answers that question.

Strohschneider has assembled a host of organisations with a stake in the sector, including COPA COGECA, representing farmers as well as retailers, environmental bodies, manufacturers etc.

The chairman Prof Peter Strohschneider has chaired a similar body for the German government and in an interview, pointed to the Irish Food Vision process as the sort of exercise he seems to be using as a template.

But he will need to go further than the Irish Government was able to in its analysis on the question of feed imports, a point he mentions.

It will be interesting to see if he comes up with any original proposals when his report comes out in the late summer/early autumn period.


The regular chestnut of fairness in the food chain is also mentioned. The role of the newly established Irish food regulator should not serve as the example to be followed at European level.

The absence of any reference to below cost selling, a practice which has helped to decimate the Irish horticultural sector as well as the lack of any teeth in dealing with alleged cartel-like behaviour in the beef sector has given us a body that will deal with process rather than real substance.

Process may be important, but if it doesn’t deal with crunch issues, it is of little real value.


The new EU body has naturally run into accusations that it is essentially a sop to farmers in the face of the protests emerging from the badly thought out Green Deal, which is now largely abandoned.

This was Ursula von der Leyen’s flagship policy when she took office, but it has been shown to be without real substance, at least on the farming side.

Her performance with the COVID-19 pandemic and Ukraine may ensure her reappointment as Commission President, but if we are to see real reforms in the CAP that can meet the objectives spelled out, then I would have thought we needed more considered analyses of various options and certainly greater input from national governments’ specialist agencies, such as Teagasc.