We are pleased to publish this discussion of recent developments in UK (England’s) post-Brexit agricultural policy by Professor Ian Hodge of the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, UK. The comments here represent solely the views of the author and not of any UK government department.
Following Brexit, the UK has been developing its own approach to agricultural policy. Agriculture is a devolved matter and so the individual nations are introducing separate policies. In England, under the 2020 Agriculture Act, direct payments are being phased out over a seven year transition period and replaced by Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMs) under the slogan of ‘public money for public goods’. … Read the rest
Overall inflation in the EU shows some tentative signs of moderating in the latest figures for the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) from Eurostat for February 2023. From a peak annual rate of inflation of 11.5% in October 2022, the annual rate fell to 9.9% in February 2023. This is entirely due to a fall in energy costs which also reached their peak in October 2022. Food price inflation, however, continues unabated and increased further in February 2023 to an unheard-of annual rate in recent decades of 19.1%. Unfortunately, this high rate of food price inflation looks set to continue for a further period.… Read the rest
The distribution of CAP direct payments among farmers has been a continuing source of controversy ever since the Commission’s 1991 Reflections Paper on the development and future of the CAP that prefigured the MacSharry reform noted that 80% of the support provided by FEOGA is devoted to 20% of farms which account also for the greater part of land used in agriculture. In successive CAP reform proposals the Commission has proposed measures that would allocate CAP support more evenly across farms, including in its 2018 legislative proposal for the CAP 2021-2027. On each occasion, the Council has pushed back and weakened the Commission proposal, as also happened with the outcome for the CAP post 2023 (the debate on redistribution in the 2018 reform is reviewed in this report for the European Parliament, chapter 5).… Read the rest
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been described as the fourth industrial revolution, following the invention of the steam engine, electric power, and the internet. AI tools can rapidly synthesize large amounts of data and detect patterns. AI tools are increasingly used in business but also in the provision of public services in activities such as risk profiling, the delivery of medical care, and traffic management.
There is growing interest in the interface between AI and public policy. This is a relationship that works both ways. On the one hand, there are concerns about how best to regulate the use of AI in society.… Read the rest
2022 was a challenging year for farming in the EU. Buffeted by weather extremes, disease outbreaks and rising input costs due partly to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions but particularly following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, there was a sharp drop in agricultural production. Yet despite the predictions of doom and gloom, 2022 was a record year for EU farm income.
We had effectively the converse situation to the farmer in Shakespeare’s Macbeth who ‘hanged himself on the expectation of plenty’. Shakespeare’s farmer had hoarded grain in order to sell it later, when prices went up. But when prices went down instead due to a good harvest, he goes bankrupt and hangs himself in despair.… Read the rest