Image Courtesy of EU Reporter

By John Maggio

The EU Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski stopped by Catholic University while visiting Washington D.C. on a diplomatic trip to meet with US and international officials on the future of substantial agriculture. Commissioner Wojciechowski’s role in the EU consists of oversight of all matters relating to agriculture including providing funding for small and medium-sized farms, international trade, and maintaining that farming across the EU is done in a sustainable, humane, and healthy way.

On Wednesday, February 22, Wojciechowski gave a speech titled “Sustainable farming for a stable democracy”. He started his speech with a quote from President Thomas Jefferson, saying that “farmers were ‘the most independent’ and ‘the most virtuous’ citizens” of one’s nation. To the commissioner a “stable food supply” leads to “a stable democracy”.

Wojciechowski made the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, the agricultural policy created in 1962 during the time of the EU’s predecessor, the European Economic Community, a key part of his speech. He noted the reforms to this decades-old policy:

“Beginning with our farming systems, last year, we completed the reform of our Common Agricultural Policy, in which we set out to build resilience and sustainability, across all dimensions,” he explained. “We are aiming for environmental sustainability – including climate action, biodiversity preservation, and care for natural resources – but also for social and economic sustainability.”

“We involved farmers and rural communities in the process of shaping the policy, working with them to design measures that can be adapted to their local conditions and capabilities.”

Agriculture has been a global concern due to supply chain issues from the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are two major global farmers, being the 3rd and 7th nations respectively in terms of arable land. This same ranking shows only one member of the EU coming within the top 20 nations in arable land, France in 16th place. The UN reported that global food prices reached an all time-high in March of 2022. While prices have fallen nearly 20% since then, food insecurity is a growing issue in much of the developing world. The UN World Food Programme reports that the number of people without food security has over doubled since 2020, reaching a record of 345 million. To put that in perspective, the US Census Bureau reports that the population of the United States, the third most populous nation, is 334 million.

During the Q&A segment of his visit, he was asked a few questions, mainly on agriculture in the EU, but also did comment on some other issues facing the European continent.

Sustainability is key to Wojciechowski’s mission. He said that his goal is to “find a balance between productivity of agriculture and sustainability of agriculture”. One example of this he highlighted was the meat production industry, supporting “sustainable meat eating” with the importance of increasing “the level of animal welfare”.

On the matter of the war in Ukraine, he praised the United States’ efforts in the war, saying that now the “Western world is united” against a common foe – Russia.

Wojciechowski, who is from Poland and is a member of the ruling party, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), was asked a question about the judicial issues between the EU and Poland. Wojciechowski explained the problem, saying that this comes down to EU freezing of $35 billion Euros (just over $37 billion USD) in Covid-19 recovery due to the PiS’s judiciary reforms, which undermines the precedent of EU supremacy over any single nation. Euronews reports that with a new law earlier this year over judiciary reforms in the right-wing parliament could please Brussels into releasing the billions in funding. Wojciechowski said that he sees things “moving in the right direction” for his home country to receive the funding.

While in Washington, Commissioner Wojciechowski met with the EU Ambassador to the US, Stavros Lambrinidis, members of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, US Secretary for Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau.

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