Review of Arie Oskam, Gerrit Meester and Huib Silvis (eds),EU policy for agriculture, food and rural areas. Published by Wageningen Academic Publishers, ISBN: 978-90-8686-118-7, €40, $60.
This book offers a comprehensive, authoritative and up-to-date review of EU agriculture, food and rural policy. One of the things I liked about it was that it covered areas that are often neglected such as animal health and welfare policy and plant diseases policy that are likely to assume a growing importance in the coming years.
The book is divided into six sections. It starts with an overview and then turns to the context of EU policies, with particular emphasis on the differences in decision-making before and after the Lisbon Treaty. The third section looks at the policies in more detail including alternative options such as the bond scheme and the fourth is concerned with food policy including developments related to food quality and safety. The fifth part provides a well informed analysis of a wide range of aspects of rural policy. The book culminates with a section which looks at the role of the CAP in European integration more generally and possible future scenarios.
The book does not set out to provide a theoretical treatment of the CAP and in that sense it is accessible to the general reader. Although there is material in the book which would be of value to the specialist researcher, particularly in the area of rural policy, this is a book which could be used with students approaching the subject for the first time. Indeed, it has been developed in relation to courses taught at Wageningen Business School, although the price militates against it being used as a text.
Given that there is a foreword by Mariann Fischer Boel, one would not expect this to be a highly critical treatment, although she points out that she does not share all the views expressed by the authors. The chapter authors are certainly prepared to be critical of current policy.
In a concluding chapter, Cees Veerman states that we should be cautious with the agricultural production capacity in the EU in both a quantitative and qualitative sense. He points out, 'EU surpluses are not the ultimate answer to food shortages elsewhere in the world, as they have never been. The battle against hunger can only be won by strengthening rural development in poor countries and supporting the spending capacity of their populations, and by creating fair and open markets'.
This book is a very useful contribution to the literature on the CAP.