30 June 2011 - Brussels - Legume Futures presentation to the European Commission
Today, Legume Futures and the role of legumes in cropping systems was the subject of a special lecture to officials in DG Agri of the European Commission. The meeting was organised by Marc Duponcel in DG Agri. who responsibilities include liaison with the Commission’s ongoing FP7 research programme.
The talk was delivered by Dr Donal Murphy-Bokern. The presentation set out the biological and ecological characteristics of legumes that make them important in cropping systems. It presented and overview of the Legume Futures project and results of past and on-going research that illustrate the opportunities legumes offer to policies to improve the environmental performance of European farming and agricultural systems.
Donal Murphy-Bokern explained the purpose of the event: “The Legume Futures Consortium is committed to making an impact on European farms. This means we need to communicate directly with key decision makers who influence if and how our research will impact on European cropping systems”.
The presentation was following by one hour of discussion. The following points were raised by the EC policy group:
1.The Legume Futures team accurately predicted policy drivers and levers when the research was proposed. In particular, the protein sufficiency issues have risen up the political agenda.
2.Rotation related payments were presented as a possible policy lever. The Legume Futures presentation showed clearly, based on FAO statistics, that a move to real diversity in cropping means greater interest in legumes in many situations.
3.The policy group was generally impressed by the range of possible environmental effects. It was emphasised that the role of the research is to test these effects rather than to advocate for more legumes. The economic analysis of public benefits is particularly relevant to CAP reform.
4.There were questions about the use of clover in grass. The performance of white clover grass pasture is such that nitrogen fertiliser use could be greatly reduced in relevant farming systems, particularly in western Europe.
5.The group was impressed by the arrangements for stakeholder interaction, particularly the local stakeholder fora. They were evidently concerned that much agricultural research that is funded to support public policy or farm practice development is conducted with little reference to or contact with policy-making and farming.
Measures to address this through CAP reform are being considered.