Description of activities and work lines of the ‘INSTITUT AGRÍCOLA’

 

MISSION /VISION

 

Since its foundation in 1851, ‘L’Institut Agrícola’ has established itself as one of the main independent civil institutions within the agricultural field. The organization brings together a wide variety of economic agents in Catalonia within the sector of the agricultural and agri-food industry: from producers, processors and marketers, from micro and small businesses, to medium, large and multinational agricultural and agri-food companies. The sector also includes agricultural service companies and those businesses closely linked to the rural economy, such as rural tourism, forestry and cultural activities.

 

WHAT ARE OUR GOALS?

 

AGRICULTURE: ECONOMIC SECTOR

  

The commitment of ‘Institut Agrícola’ goes beyond its associates and includes the entire society. The view we often have of agriculture is limited to the images we have of the rural world and its landscape. However, agricultural and livestock activities are an important economic sector, like any other, which requires an industrial policy similar to that of other economic sectors.

As a result, ‘Institut Agrícola’ demands the agricultural sector should be treated in the same way as other economic sectors. It is important that the sector as a whole should have a stable legal and regulatory system that ensures its economic and environmental sustainability. After all, ensuring the sustainability of agriculture is to ensure the future of food.

 

 

FRAME OF REFERENCE: EUROPE

In recent years, and coinciding with greater European integration, the organization has increasingly focused on Europe. Europe is a fundamental part of our future and is now especially relevant in the agricultural sector where the bulk of the regulatory framework is already dictated by the European institutions as a whole.

The Institut continues to emphasise the important message of approaching agriculture as an economic sector that, like any other, needs to have a stable regulatory framework that guarantees its long-term economic sustainability. Therefore, the bulk of regulations need to prioritize the sustainability of the agricultural businesses on which our future depends, as well as being a key industry within our export framework.

Only those countries that have economically robust agricultural sectors are able to invest in better technologies and processes with a lower environmental impact. But to achieve this we must be creative, have a holistic approach, and opt for an incentive system that encourages the European agricultural markets to be strong and sustainable.

 

The traditional approach by the sector has been one that is heavily reliant on subsidies which make the sector appear unattractive and uncompetitive in global markets and is a drain on public expenditure. Clearly a new approach is necessary to change this perception.

 

MAIN AREAS OF WORK

Day to day contact with the everyday needs of the sector and the long experience gathered by the institution has led to the generation of content for the diagnosis of problems and challenges faced by the sector.

This has been achieved by the various departments of the Institut (including technical, legal and service of studies) leading to the creation of possible solutions, opportunities, and new advances that technology offers in all fields of the sector.

Through this process, 4 large areas of work have come to light.

 

Rural Depopulation Agenda

With the boom in the industrial sector, and especially the services sector, along with the mechanization of the agricultural sector, rural areas have been losing population in a sustained manner for the last 30 years. This trend, although logical and to be expected, is partially due to the lack of resources in many rural areas which have led to unequal conditions in competing with urban areas to attract investment in capital and talent.

 

Apart from the traditional aid through subsidies and rural development funds, a comprehensive plan is needed to ensure that rural areas have the essential digital infrastructure as well as a fiscal framework that recognizes the difficulties that citizens in these areas have when facing needs in the basic services, such as education and health, so that they can compete more equally.

 

The Common Agricultural Policy - CAP

The CAP is one of the most important policy areas of the European Union financial framework (close to 40%), and heavily influences decision making in the agricultural sector among the Member States (MS).

The great challenge for the future of the CAP is to find a balance between agricultural economic activity and the conservation of the environment. The CAP should work towards including more economic criteria to ensure competitiveness and economic sustainability in the sector. This is a strategic challenge in geopolitical terms -having a competitive agricultural sector is an essential requirement to be able to continue working towards greater freedom of trade between the countries of the Atlantic base, especially with the USA.

 

 

Free Trade Agenda based on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

The agricultural sector is not only one of the most subsidized at European level, but it is also a sector that has a very high level of trade tariffs and non-tariff barriers with non-EU countries. In the Institut we are aware that this situation is not sustainable and that, little by little, the sector will have to evolve and integrate with other markets that are capable of benefiting from the international division of labor, thus guaranteeing smooth trade in the future.

 

Demographics

Demographics are the great factor that determines demand in the agricultural sector as a whole. Demography and changes in per capita income generally lead to a diet richer in the consumption of meat protein. The demographic problems of the world change radically depending on whether we are referring to a developed economy or an emerging economy. In the first, the great challenge is an aging population (especially when this conflicts with the commitment to pay pensions), while in the second, the problem is accelerated growth and pressure on resources, including agricultural ones. On average, the world will have to face the feeding of 80-82 million additional people each year until 2050, an increase in total demand estimated at 70%.

 

Water

Water is the lifeblood of the sector, the most basic resource for life on the planet. Without water there is no agriculture. It is a capricious resource whose distribution is tremendously unequal. In some cases, we are facing a problem of simple scarcity: for example, in deserts and arid areas where it simply does not rain. However, the main problem regarding water does not derive as much from its scarcity (lack of rain) as from its poor management (inefficient institutional frameworks, questionable incentives, distorted prices, etc.). Addressing the issue of water management in a comprehensive, creative and integrated manner is a strategic issue for any country and for Europe, which is key to the life and development of the agri-food industry.