Further note on EU farm income trends

In my previous post, I discussed recent EU farm income trends based on recently-updated Eurostat data. Earlier this week, DG Agriculture and Rural Development released an update of its CAP Context Indicators. These are part of a set of CAP Indicators linked to output, results and impact which are aimed at measuring the effects of policy measures (the value of these indicators is discussed by Koester and Loy in this post).

The Context Indicators are intended to monitor general contextual trends in the economy, environment and society which may affect the performance of the CAP. There is a wealth of useful information in the short fact sheets which accompany each indicator.

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Recent trends in EU farm incomes

Earlier this month, without any fanfare, Eurostat produced its estimates of farm income for 2015 (see its database domain aact_eaa06 under the Economic Accounts for Agriculture, EAA). Given the noisy campaign by the farm lobby in recent months for additional support to the sector, one would expect the figures to show a sector in dire straits, reeling from crisis. There are, of course, individual sectors in trouble. There are individual member states where farm incomes over the past two years have taken a very serious hit. And there are individual farmers in all sectors, particularly those who are heavily borrowed, who have run into financial difficulty.

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The use of CAP impact indicators for policy evaluation

This post is written by Ulrich Koester and Jens-Peter Loy

According to new legislation, the European Commission (EC) is in charge of evaluating Pillar 1 measures of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), while Pillar 2 measures have to be evaluated by the Member States (MS). Pillar 1 measures are of utmost importance for EU expenditure, amounting to a share of about 40% of the total expenditure of the EU budget. The request for evaluation is a significant step forward. One may wonder whether this new task indicates that the measures of the CAP have not been evaluated regularly so far. In the following, we focus on one specific measure, direct payments, for two reasons.

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Council supports voluntary milk reduction scheme

Yesterday, the Agriculture Council agreed on a package of 13 measures to bring relief to agricultural markets in difficulty. Most attention has focused on the Commission’s willingness to invoke Article 222 of the CMO Regulation to permit producer organisations and recognised interbranch organisations in the dairy sector to introduce voluntary measures to reduce milk supplies, financed by member state funds. This attention is due more to the unusual nature of the measure rather than an assessment of its likely effectiveness.

The measure was put forward by Commissioner Hogan in his address to the Council. The agreement is summarised here in the Presidency Council conclusions and here in this DG AGRI press release following the meeting.

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Temporary supply management for milk offers no solution

The agenda for Ministers meeting at the Agriculture Council meeting tomorrow Monday 14th March includes a discussion of the difficult market situation facing a number of agricultural sectors, including dairy, pigmeat and fruits and vegetables. Ministers will assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the market support measures currently in place, and whether additional measures could be envisaged.

At last month’s February Council, member states were invited to submit concrete proposals on possible additional measures, on top of the €500 million aid package adopted by the Council last September (extraordinarily, only 10 out of 28 member states have so far introduced schemes to spend this money).

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