Sea of Ignorance

A new Eurobarometer survey has found that 72 per cent of respondents considered themselves to be uninformed on agricultural issues and over half (54 per cent) had never heard or read about the CAP. The 43 per cent who claim to have at least some degree of awareness comprises of 34 per cent who say ‘they don’t really know exactly what it is’ and just 9 per cent who say they know ‘exactly what it is’.… Read the rest

69 Ways to Reform the CAP

Analyses of the contents of the Commission’s Health Check Communication have heightened in recent days with the content of the leaked draft document reported in the agriculture press. Of particular interest from an environmental perspective, is the resurgence of the little applied Article 69. This article is housed within the current CAP legislation, Regulation 1782/2003, and allows a Member State to skim off up to ten per cent of the monies to be directed at one sector and provide an additional payment that is targeted at the ‘protection or enhancement of the environment’, or for ‘improving the quality and marketing of agricultural products’.… Read the rest

Cross compliance: tough new standards or money for nothing?

During last week’s furore over trading in CAP subsidy entitlements, the question of what farmers must do in return for their subsidy was raised. In a speech on 6 March 2007 in India, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said that the CAP’s new Single Farm Payment (SFP) is conditional on farmers observing “tough standards of environmental care, animal welfare and public health”. But a new report from the Institute for European Environment Policy provides some evidence that the conditionality of subsidy payments is something of a mirage. Only in a very small number of cases do the requirements actually exceed what was already required by member states’ pre-existing laws on environmental pollution and animal welfare.… Read the rest

Investors buying up farm subsidies

The past week has seen a series of revelations in the media about the way that decoupled farm subsidies are operating in Scotland. It has become evident that farm subsidy entitlements are being sold by farmers and that investors – who may never have set foot on a farm – are buying up entitlements to claim the new Single Farm Payment, which accounts for the bulk of the European Union’s £48.5 billion Common Agricultural Policy.… Read the rest

'Suspended pessimism' remains Doha mood

Bilateral discussions have continued between the key participants in the Doha Round farm trade talks, most recently in London, but although clarification of the issues and what might be possible continues, there has been little real progress. Key participants in Geneva have described the overall mood as one of ‘suspended pessimism’.… Read the rest

EU's share of global milk production falling

The EU’s share of global milk production is falling as a result of the quota system according to Rabobank dairy specialist Mark Voorbegen. Addressing a seminar organized by Dairy UK, he said that the EU had a 27 per cent share of the global market in 2005, down from the 1995 level of 31 per cent. By 2015 it is forecast to fall to 25 per cent (although by then quotas may have been abolished).… Read the rest

Phase out subsidies by 2020 says Miliband

Britain’s Defra secretary told the Oxford Farming Conference is committed to a system by 2020 where ‘public funds are only used for public goods, in particular environmental benefits.’ This would mean the effective end of Pillar 1 and of restraints on trade. ‘I see an inevitable process of trade liberalisation, with huge pressure on subsidies and restraints on trade.’ Contrary to the views of the farm commissioner, the 2008 CAP health check should be used to pursue a ‘further fundamental reform’.… Read the rest

Green box does distort trade, claims Indian study

A report commissioned by the Indian Department of Commerce and carried out by UNCTAD’s Indian team challenges the EU’s argument that decoupled aid payments have only a minimal trade distorting effect. According to the researchers’ model, EU farm exports would fall by a massive 45 per cent if Green Box subsidies were removed and production would fall by close to 6 per cent.… Read the rest