Can a system in which taxpayers transfer €63,000 each year to each farmer in Luxembourg be justified?
A new report reveals which farms would survive without CAP subsidies and which would fail
Agricultural ministers of the OECD met in late February 2010 – the first time since 1998 – and issued a communiqué that touches on everything and says close to nothing. For once, such an empty statement is perfectly fine. The OECD Secretariat doesn’t need its ministers in order to do an excellent job in providing [...]
The budget monitoring website FollowTheMoney.eu is serialising a three part survey of the long history of fraud in the Common Agricultural Policy.
Five leading European farming and environmental NGOs, who between them boast several million members, have jointly published a blueprint for a new Common Agricultural Policy. In an unusual and very modern step, they have published a draft proposal and opened it for consultation. They will produce a final version in 2010. The proposal, which runs [...]
Scotland is far more in tune with current thinking on farm subsidies in mainland Europe than England and Wales, claims Scotland’s rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead. Addressing farmers at a Christmas Carcass competition in Inverurie, Mr Lochhead brought them glad tidings about the deep divide in agriculture policies on the two sides of the border. [...]
When the negotiators in the Uruguay Round of the GATT introduced the concept of the ‘green box’ – farm support measures that are minimally or non-trade distorting and therefore exempt from any limits – few would have foreseen that within 15 years, the bulk of farm support in the developed world would be in the [...]
4000 dairy farmers with 900 tractors demonstrated outside an EU agricultural ministers meeting in Luxembourg yesterday calling for more aid for the sector. Inside, ministers faced a Franco-German memorandum backed by 20 member states with a series of demands for market distorting measures. In the event the concessions the Commission made are probably the least [...]
In one of its most critical ever reports, the National Audit Office has slammed the way in which the Rural Payments Agency has administered Single Farm Payments to farmers. It accused the agency of showing ‘scant regard to protecting public money’. The agency has wasted around £700m, the capital equivalent of building thirty secondary schools.
Earlier in the month I wrote that Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel was holding the line against protesting dairy farmers and a clutch of national agriculture ministers looking for more aid for their troubled farmers. It looks as though I spoke too soon. At this month’s farm council, Commissioner Fischer Boel found a further 280 [...]
This afternoon I did a pre-recorded interview with BBC Radio 4′s Farming Today programme. The subject was the House of Lords report on the 2010 EU budget, which says too much money is being spent on agriculture. The first question I was asked by the presenter shows how deeply the new (old) productivism has taken [...]
Euractiv reports on the creation of a new Franco-German working group to frame reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013. France has a new Agriculture Minister in Bruno Le Maire, who wasted no time in setting out his stall in meetings with Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Russia and Romania may be two of the cheapest places in the world to produce wheat, but the UK is only a little way behind. Releasing the result of its Global Cost of Production Challenge, Bidwells Agriculture head of research Carl Atkin, said that despite the higher unit price of inputs in the UK, cost [...]
The debate on the future of the CAP after 2013 has now started following the informal Farm Council in the Czech Republic earlier this month. Those who want to influence the debate have about twelve months before the Commission publishes a Communication (effectively a White Paper) on future policy in the summer/early autumn of next [...]
Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money intended for environmental projects is instead being used to prop up damaging farmning practices across Europe, according to a report Could Do Better compiled for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds by Birdlife International. The report highlights some of the positive work being done in EU member [...]
The anti-EU agitprop outfit Open Europe has been huffing and puffing over the golden goodbyes that await those European Commissioners who will be put out to pasture when the current Commission’s five year mandate comes to an end later this year. Among their number is thought to be our own Agriculture Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel [...]
I realise that opposition politicians have to say all things to all persons and jump on any bandgwagon that’s going on, but I must say that I found an interview with Nick Herbert, the shadow Defra secretary, in Farmers Weekly a bit disappointing. It remains to be seen whether the MP for Arundel and South [...]
You will be forgiven for wondering why things have been a little on the quiet side here at CAPHealthCheck.eu over the past couple of months. For my part, besides some intensive behind-the-scenes work at farmsubsidy.org and and exciting new EU budget transparency project that’s still under wraps, I’ve been blogging more on the EU budget [...]
Last week I posted five reasons why it is hard to justify spending 30 billion euros each year on the Single Payment Scheme. Here are five more reasons.
The EU spends around 30 billion euros each year on the single payment scheme, by far the largest of the myriad schemes and programmes that together comprise the 54 billion euro budget of the Common Agriculture Policy. The scheme was first introduced in 2005 but it is hard to see it surviving in its current [...]
It’s not uncommon to see reports of people queueing up all night for the latest iPhone, the next Star Wars movie or tickets to watch tennis at Wimbledon. But as I write, farmers in Northern Ireland are queueing outside for farm subsidies. The government in Northern Ireland has decided to hand out farm subsidies ‘on [...]
It was the recession of the 1930s that ushered in agricultural protectionism and subsidies, not least in the United States. Now the European Union has reverted to two of its old favourite policy instruments: intervention buying and export subsidies in the dairy sector just when we thought we had seen the last of them. Stocks [...]
It’s no wonder that the Commission suppressed the Court of Auditors report on cross compliance for as long as it could – the report is damning and undermines the Commission’s case for the legitimacy of EU farm subsidies. Speaking in 2005, Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel explained how she sees cross compliance in relation nearly [...]
Unanimity, like pregnancy, has a binary quality. A decision can’t be ‘virtually unanimous’. But this is just how French farms minister Michel Barnier described this morning’s final compromise agreement on the health check package. So which of the EU 27 member states were unable to acquiesce in the deal? My sources tell Roger Waite tells [...]
If Europe’s wealthiest landowners, from the Duke of Westminster in the UK to Prince Albert of Monaco to the fabulously-named Johannes Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marko d’Aviano Pius von und zu Liechtenstein (aka Hans Adam II, Prince of Liechtenstein) were having sleepless nights over the future of their six and seven figure annual handouts [...]
As Wyn Grant has observed, the Court of Auditors annual report on the 2007 EU budget published on Monday identified a clutch of weaknesses associated with the controls on spending on EU farm policies. The Court observes that “Some 20 percent of payments audited at final beneficiary level and revealed incorrect payments, a limited number [...]
Agra Focus has been conducting a series of interviews on EU farm policy and one of the longest and most interesting to date is with Allan Buckwell. He is currently policy director with the (England and Wales) Country and Land Business Association, but is also chair of the policy committee run by the European Landowners [...]
In yesterday’s Irish Times I went ‘head to head’ with Michael Ring, a Fine Gael member of the Irish Dáil (legislature). I was putting the case for transparency in public expenditure on farm subsidies and Michael was arguing against. He made the claim that transparency in the CAP will “will give a clear indication of [...]
In December 2006 European Union heads of government agreed a new Financial Regulation, the legal text that sets out the rules for the EU budget. The new Financial Regulation contains new requirements on the public disclosure of end beneficiaries of EU funds. The first significant fruits of the new budget transparency law are due by [...]
Czech agriculture minister Petr Gandalovic made an curious statement at the informal Agriculture Council meeting held earlier this week in the French Alps. Mr Gandalovic, who will assume the chairmanship of the Council under the Czech EU Presidency in the first half of 2009, told his colleagues: “The more specific you make the policy, the [...]
France has produced a paper on the future of the CAP which is designed to stimulate discussion at the informal farm council to be held there in the Rhone-Alps region on 21-23 September. The paper is very vague, no doubt deliberately so, and interpreting has to be an exercise in decoding.
We’re used to the arguments that the CAP’s subsidies and tariffs are very bad for many desperately poor farmers in the developing world, with some going as far as to say that the EU has blood on its hands but now comes a piece of medical research which suggests that EU farm subsidies are responsible [...]
In order to animate a transparent debate on the purpose, intensity and spatial distribution of CAP expenditure, a number of maps overlaying CAP expenditure data and high nature value farmland have been produced as part of a study recently completed by IEEP for the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
The vast majority of expenditure under the CAP continues to be directed to income support and is not explicitly targeted at responding to biodiversity, or other pressing environmental objectives. According to a new IEEP study for the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) the distribution and allocation of CAP funding, and the uses [...]
With the release yesterday of new figures on EU expenditure in 2007, the Commission has been busy spinning the line that farm subsidies no longer account for the biggest item of Brussels spending. Most news outlets have been swallowing this line without taking a closer look at the figures which show that a full 50 [...]
Over at farmsubsidy.org you can see the first fruits of a mapping project which aims to place every EU farm subsidy payment on a fully interactive web-based map, powered by the excellent Google Maps. The first country to get the mapping treatment is Sweden, chosen because its government has been by far the most transparent [...]
While many are disappointed by the lack of ambition in the Commission’s health check proposals, there’s no doubt that Commissioner Fischer Boel has been on form when it comes to the pithy soundbites.
The evolution of agricultural land prices and rents can be a good indicator of the effect of agricultural policy, because of the assumption that a significant proportion of the transfers to farmers as a result of such policy are capitalised into land values. Thus, changes in agricultural policy may have implications for land values, and [...]
Earlier in the year a collaboration between German TV station Bayerischer Rundfunk’s Report München, Greenpeace and farmsubsidy.org uncovered farm subsidies going to some unusual recipients: airlines and cruise ships. Recall that similar revelations about farm subsidies to golf courses, pony clubs and railway companies made headlines in the autumn of last year. Watch the report [...]
We all know that the legislators who write US farm policy are not the brightest bulbs in the box. Even so, Senator Chuck Grassley treated us to an unusual insight into his own very special, mixed-up world during a telephone press briefing last week, reported in the Des Moines Register. Asked about the contribution of [...]
With growing consensus that US and EU biofuel subsidies are among the principal contributors to recent global food price rises, termed a ‘silent tsunami’ by The Economist, EU Trade Commissioner today signaled that Europe needs to reconsider its target of achieving a 10 per cent biofuels mix in transport fuel by 2020. Speaking on BBC [...]
One proposal in the Commission’s health check communication of 20 November 2007 is that the member states which still allocate farm subsidies on the basis of historic entitlements should move to the area average system in which allocations are the same across all hectares in a given geographical region. But it looks as though this [...]
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 [...]
A new report commissioned by the Budget Committee of the European Parliament makes interesting reading. The report, written by Jorge Núñez Ferrer (a former Commission fonctionnaire) and Eleni A. Kaditi, both of the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, aims to asses whether the CAP provides ‘added value’. Núñez Ferrer and Kaditi define this [...]
Earlier this week, BBC Radio 4 broadcast Churchill Confidential, a dramatisation of British cabinet meetings chaired by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, records of which have only recently been released into the public domain. In this week’s episode, looking at Churchill’s second term of office (1951-55), we get an overview of the pressing issues of state [...]
It should come as no surprise that the EU level farm union COPA-COGECA’s response to the Commission’s communication on the CAP health check is reminiscent of King Canute, trying to hold back the tide. What is very interesting, however, is that in important areas the response contains dissenting voices (or ‘reserves’) expressed by a handful [...]
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’ [...]
When is a direct payment not a coupled payment? When it is an animal welfare payment. No, this is not a riddle found in my Christmas party cracker, but a response to the news that the Irish Government has just been given the go-ahead to introduce an animal welfare payment for Ireland’s 65,000 suckler cow [...]
The recently leaked Commission Green paper sets the scene for the upcoming health check. What emerges at the moment is a very cautious and minimalist approach, in line with what the Commissioner has been promising for a while. Two things seem striking. The first is the choice to ignore the budget review debate. The second [...]
The dependence of Irish farm incomes on the Single Farm Payment and other direct payments was starkly revealed by the publication of the 2006 results of the annual National Farm Survey (NFS) this week. Fully 98% of Family Farm Income (FFI) on Irish farms in 2006 was derived from the Single Farm Payment and other [...]