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Measuring changing farm structure in the EU

A particular type of farm structure is not an explicit policy objective of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). However, facilitating structural change is an objective of the CAP, set out in Article 39 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as a way of ensuring a fair standard of living for the agricultural community and increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture (the Treaty language speaks of “ensuring the rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular labour”).

However, there is a widely-shared view that it is desirable to maintain the family farm model of European agriculture.… Read the rest

What is the growth potential of EU agriculture?

Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan committed himself to a growth, jobs and investment agenda for agriculture in his confirmation hearing with the EP’s COMAGRI. Given the stuttering EU recovery and continued high unemployment in EU countries, this is an understandable objective. But can EU agriculture rise to the challenge? Not on its past record, at least without substantially changing the policy paradigm.
It is rarely recognised just how disappointing the growth performance of EU agriculture has been over the past two decades. As shown in the figure below, the average growth rate over the period 1990-2011 for the EU-28 has been a mere 0.2% per annum.… Read the rest

Why are we so lousy at measuring farmers’ incomes?

It has been heard and written everywhere for the last 18 months: farm incomes have gone down dramatically. After two years of carpet bombing by the media, with anything from 60 percent price fall in prices to desperate farmers spreading their milk in the fields, the consultation on the future of the CAP organized by Commissioner Ciolos suggest that many, in the civil society, are convinced that EU farmers are starving. As an external reviewer of the synthesis report of this consultation, I saw a large sample of individual contributions. My feeling is that for many people, the current low farm incomes justify subsidies, border protection and paying more attention to mechanisms to support farm prices.… Read the rest

Why are we so lousy at measuring farmers' incomes?

It has been heard and written everywhere for the last 18 months: farm incomes have gone down dramatically. After two years of carpet bombing by the media, with anything from 60 percent price fall in prices to desperate farmers spreading their milk in the fields, the consultation on the future of the CAP organized by Commissioner Ciolos suggest that many, in the civil society, are convinced that EU farmers are starving. As an external reviewer of the synthesis report of this consultation, I saw a large sample of individual contributions. My feeling is that for many people, the current low farm incomes justify subsidies, border protection and paying more attention to mechanisms to support farm prices.… Read the rest

Comprehensive market price data from DG Agri

Following the recent interest in food price developments, DG AGRI has now released long-term monthly price data for a wide range of farm and first-stage processed products from its AGRIVIEW database. AGRIVIEW is a data warehouse providing a common repository for integrated data for DG AGRI which is normally only available to internal Commission analysts. For example, it includes financial information, market prices, tariff data, and data on export refunds. The market price data on a monthly basis from January 1997 until the most recent date, for both the EU on average and for individual member states, is now available for download as a 7MB Excel file from the DG AGRI website.… Read the rest