Jamie Oliveoil explains the politics of the CAP

I don’t much agree with the Taxpayer Alliance, a right-wing campaign group based in London. The TA thinks taxes are theft and believes governments are rife with waste, fraud and abuse. I think paying taxes is patriotic and believe most public servants are well motivated and do a good job. The TA uses the CAP as a stick to beat the EU. I think the CAP gives the EU a bad name and want to see it reformed because I am a strong supporter of the EU.

Our differences aside, I’ll admit that TA has produced an amusing viral video to publicise its new report on the economics and the politics of the CAP, featuring a spoof of Jamie Oliver, the TV chef.

Read the rest

Fischer Boel golden goodbye: "Because I'm worth it"

The anti-EU agitprop outfit Open Europe has been huffing and puffing over the golden goodbyes that await those European Commissioners who will be put out to pasture when the current Commission’s five year mandate comes to an end later this year. Among their number is thought to be our own Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel who, after five years of service in Brussels stands to receive approximately 270,000 euros of ‘transition money’ before her 43,000 euro a year pension kicks in.
fischerboelThe 66-year old Dane, who sports a trademark shock of snow white hair, has invoked the spirit of Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston in the L’Oréal commercials, insisting the payout is entirely justifiable “because I’m worth it”.

Read the rest

Fischer Boel golden goodbye: “Because I’m worth it”

The anti-EU agitprop outfit Open Europe has been huffing and puffing over the golden goodbyes that await those European Commissioners who will be put out to pasture when the current Commission’s five year mandate comes to an end later this year. Among their number is thought to be our own Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel who, after five years of service in Brussels stands to receive approximately 270,000 euros of ‘transition money’ before her 43,000 euro a year pension kicks in.

fischerboelThe 66-year old Dane, who sports a trademark shock of snow white hair, has invoked the spirit of Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston in the L’Oréal commercials, insisting the payout is entirely justifiable “because I’m worth it”.

Read the rest

Why CAP reform happened

The latest Journal of Common Market Studies (vol.47, 2, March 2009) contains an important article exploring the determinants of CAP reform. It is written by Alan Swinbank, a distinguished agricultural economist and a leading proponent of reform and Arlindo Cunha who was chair of the Agriculture Council in 1992 at the time of the MacSharry reform.

Read the rest

Pressure building on Commission to postpone milk quota reform

If there was a jewel in the crown of the CAP health check deal agreed last November it was probably the decision to phase out milk quota between now and 2015, with a one per cent increase in quota each year. But this prize is now under threat as several powerful EU member states led by Germany have argued at today’s Agriculture Council meeting that the reform should be postponed.

Read the rest

Farming and the depression

Is it too early to call it a depression? Difficult to tell, but all the news this month is pointing in that direction. So it is timely that over at the CAP2020 blog, Martin Farmer has written a lengthy post on the impact of the global economic slowdown on farming. In many respects, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts. Commodity prices are down, but so too are key input prices like oil. Consumers have less money to spend, but they still need to eat. Recent spikes in profits provide new money for investment, but bank loans have never been more costly.

Read the rest

UK Tories on a crooked path to protectionism?

I realise that opposition politicians have to say all things to all persons and jump on any bandgwagon that’s going on, but I must say that I found an interview with Nick Herbert, the shadow Defra secretary, in Farmers Weekly a bit disappointing. It remains to be seen whether the MP for Arundel and South Downs will be Defra secretary in David Cameron’s Conservative government, or even whether Defra will remain in his present form. However, if his thinking is typical of that in the shadow cabinet on agriculture and food matters, it’s a bit worrying. It looks as if we could be lurching back towards productionism.

Read the rest

Spending money to pay it out

One of the many drawbacks of the CAP is that it costs a lot of money to run which reduces the sums that reach the supposed beneficiaries. It has now emerged in response to a parliamentary question that each claim for the Single Farm Payment (SFP), irrespective of its value costs £742 to process. Junior Defra minister Jane Kennedy said that the figure was obtained by considering the direct processing costs and the total number of claims received.

Read the rest

Tenant farmer tells it like it is

I have a lot of sympathy with tenant farmers. It is sometimes said that farmers are asset rich but income poor, by which it is meant that they own a lot of extremely valuable land but don’t make a whole lot of profit from working it. In the case of tenant farmers, who have to rent their land, they are too often asset poor and income poor.

The UK Tenant Farmers Association recently held its annual jamboree and, fresh back from his half term holiday in Egypt, National Chairman Greg Bliss gave a speech. He used the occasion to share some observations about agriculture policy that I thought might be of interest to readers of this blog.

Read the rest