The U.S. has agreed on a $2 trillion stimulus package, the largest economic stimulus in its history, in response to the economic impacts of Covid-19. U.S. farm groups lobbied hard to be included in the package, and $23.5 billion was included in the final package for farm aid. This farm aid comes on top of the two trade aid packages of $12 billion and $16 billion introduced by the Trump Administration in 2018 and 2019, respectively, to provide relief to commodity producers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs introduced by various countries in response to tariffs on their exports to the U.S.
In its most recent Farm Bill in 2014, the US eliminated its decoupled direct payments, in part because it was hard to justify making income support payments to farmers at a time when farm incomes were booming due to favourable prices. Instead, it substituted a new set of counter-cyclical payments as part of the US farm safety net. At the same time, it expanded the scope of its federal crop insurance programmes by introducing a new programme to cover ‘shallow losses’ not normally covered by these programmes.
These US developments have led some in Europe to argue that the CAP should move in the same direction.
It is difficult to compare the proposed €370 billion for 7 years in the CAP (a crude estimate based on recent budget proposals) with some US$ 690 billion, i.e
SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary standards) barriers figured prominently in the final Agricultural Council of 2008 under the French Presidency. Agricultural Ministers agreed Council Conclusions on the safety of imported agricultural and agri-food products and compliance with Community rules. At the same meeting, EU Farm Ministers rejected a Commission proposal to allow the use of antimicrobial substances to treat poultry carcasses, which would have re-opened the Community market to US imports. Is there a danger that food safety protection becomes an excuse for protectionism?
A new survey of public opinion released today by the German Marshall Fund of the United States shows strong support for ‘consumer agenda’ in EU and US agriculture policies focused on food safety, the environment and the food supply. There was significantly less support for producer-oriented priorities like providing emergency financial relief to farmers, insuring farmers against unpredictable market conditions and preserving small family farms.