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Well fancy that…

What a difference a change of ministerial portfolio makes! Back in 2006, Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for International Development, was strident in his criticisms of the CAP:

“Through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), two fifths of the EU budget goes on subsidies and support to Europe’s farmers who represent 5% of Europe’s population, and produce less than 2% of Europe’s output. Most is not spent in the poorer parts of Europe where it is needed. Most goes to the biggest farming companies and landowners, not small farmers.”

Times change, Prime Ministers come and go, and Hilary Benn is now Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.… Read the rest

Commission drops plan to reduce ‘fat cat’ farm subsidies

Top Commission officials have confirmed that in the face of opposition from four member states (Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and the UK) as well as many farm unions, Mariann Fischer Boel has dropped plans to cut the very largest farm subsidy payments by 45 per cent. The plan, which would have affected an estimated 23,000 farms that receive in excess of €300,000 a year, a list which is dominated by Europe’s wealthiest landowners such as the Duke of Westminster, Prince Albert of Monaco and the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein. … Read the rest

Commission drops plan to reduce 'fat cat' farm subsidies

Top Commission officials have confirmed that in the face of opposition from four member states (Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia and the UK) as well as many farm unions, Mariann Fischer Boel has dropped plans to cut the very largest farm subsidy payments by 45 per cent. The plan, which would have affected an estimated 23,000 farms that receive in excess of €300,000 a year, a list which is dominated by Europe’s wealthiest landowners such as the Duke of Westminster, Prince Albert of Monaco and the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein. … Read the rest

Goepel plan: weak, weak, weak

The European Parliament’s agriculture committee published a working paper on the CAP health check at the end of last year. Tamsin Cooper and Martin Farmer at IEEP have already argued that from an environmental perspective it lacks ambition and is internally inconsistent. I have looked in detail at the working paper’s proposals for ‘progressive modulation’ which is put forward as an alternative to both the Commission’s proposals on payment limits and increased compulsory modulation.… Read the rest

Commission proposals: so what happens next?

As DG Agriculture’s spokesman Michael Mann has been keen to stress over the past few days since the publication of the Commission’s communication on the CAP health check, this is just the start of the process of deliberation and debate. Dr Tamsin Cooper of the Institute for European Environmental Policy has written a useful briefing on the next steps in the process.… Read the rest

Specious arguments against limiting payments to largest farms

Initial media reaction to the Commission’s Health Check proposals has been predictable, with most papers picking up as the lead story the Commission’s proposal to apply a tapering reduction to direct payments to larger farms. The Financial Times story was headlined “Communists and royalty fight farm subsidy cuts.” Much was made of the fact that the Commission’s illustrative proposals would reduce the payments received by the Queen of England, who apparently received £465,000 (€650,000) in 2005, by over £140,000 (€192,000). British and German officials were quoted as saying they would oppose these reductions as they were unworkable and undesirable.… Read the rest

More on capping direct payments

Much initial reaction to the Commission’s leaked Health Check proposals has focused on its renewed attempt to introduce a cap on the Single Farm Payment amount which an individual farmer can receive. In fact, the proposal does not amount to a cap in the sense of an absolute ceiling, but takes of the form of a tapered payment Farmers receiving between €100,000 and €200,000 would face a 10% cut, those receiving between €200,000 and €300,000, a 25% cut and those receiving over €300,000, a 45% cut. Jack Thurston’s blog yesterday highlights the limited impact the measure will have.

It might be useful to put the Commission’s proposal in some historical perspective.… Read the rest