Handy primer on CAP reform debate

The new issue of Food Ethics magazine is devoted to a discussion of CAP reform and the 2008 CAP Health Check. Alongside articles by CAP Health Check blogger Wyn Grant and me, you’ll find some useful analysis by many of the movers and shakers in the CAP debate, both in Brussels, the UK and elsewhere. Read article-by-article here, or download the entire magazine as a handy PDF file: Food Ethics – CAP Reform issue. The Food Ethics Council is a UK-registered charity that challenges government, business and society to make wise choices that lead to better food and farming.… Read the rest

Danish parliament unanimously calls for elimination of CAP support

Some Danish colleagues told me recently that the Danish Parliament on 30 May last unanimously passed a resolution requiring the Danish government to propose a strategy for how it would actively work for the elimination of EU agricultural support. The strategy should include a timeframe and plan of activities which should take into account the planned CAP Health Check in 2008 and the review of the EU budget in 2009. The strategy should be presented to Parliament before the end of 2007. … Read the rest

Australian report raises queries on CAP reform

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) has long been a consistent critic of the CAP. In its latest report The European Union’s Agricultural Policy: A Stocktake of Reforms it acknowledges the EU’s reform efforts to date, but highlights areas where more needs to be done. Its main conclusion is that, while the EU has been changing the form of its agricultural support policies toward ‘decoupled’ payments, very little has been done to reduce the level of support. In particular, substantial support and protection have been retained through tariffs and tariff quotas, and member states have retained some ‘coupled’ payments.… Read the rest

Good prospects for dairy reform

A particular milestone in the CAP was passed last month when the European Commission set export refunds on dairy products to zero for the first time ever in the management of the EU dairy regime. This reflects the extraordinary jump in world market prices for milk products in the past twelve months, with prices for skim milk powder more than doubling in US dollar terms.

World dairy product prices 1979-2007Source: USDA Dairy: World Markets and Trade July 2007… Read the rest

Set aside: act now, think later…

Following a Swedish proposal and widespread support in the Agriculture Council, the Commission announced the intention to set the level of compulsory set aside at 0% for the 2008 harvest. This is bad news for Europe’s wildlife and suggests a disappointing level of commitment to environmental sustainability on the side of the EU and its Member States. It also seems like a textbook case of ill conceived decision making. … Read the rest

The dairy paradox

British dairy farmers are leaving the industry in large numbers, but world milk and milk product prices are heading upwards fast. How can one explain this paradox? The simple answer is, of course, that the key UK liquid milk market is largely insulated from world market factors.… Read the rest

Horse paddocks get SFP

In the long run it is going to be difficult to justify a Single Farm Payment (SFP) model that is based on historical receipts. This model originated in the generous compensation given to cereal farmers for cuts in intervention payments in the 1992 MacSharry reforms. There will be a shift to a regional model with a flat rate payment per hectare in each region. This is already under way in England, Finland and Germany and all the new member states have a flat rate payment system.… Read the rest

CAP policy instruments and policy goals: cause or effect?

Fellow blogger Wyn Grant presented a paper in Paris last month which presents a wide-ranging overview of the changes in CAP policy instruments since its inception to the present day. His basic thesis is that over time the instruments have changed much more than the objectives and that this does reflect a shift in the content of the CAP and its ultimate goals. He concludes that it is changes in CAP policy which have led to changes in policy instruments, although he does cite some examples where the introduction of new instruments, possibly by creating obvious anomalies, can spark off wider policy debates (trading SFP entitlements, voluntary modulation).… Read the rest