The greying of Europe’s farmers

Problems in the generational transfer of farms have been a focus of EU agricultural structures policy since the 1990s and in individual member states for an even longer period. Europe’s farmers are getting older, and the shortage of ‘new blood’ entering the industry is frequently seen as a problem requiring a policy response to correct.

The ageing of the agricultural population results from a combination of two things: a reduced rate of entry by new young recruits, and a reduced rate of retirement or exit by older farmers. This is taking place in the context of a long term reduction in the agricultural labour force in EU countries.… Read the rest

The greying of Europe's farmers

Problems in the generational transfer of farms have been a focus of EU agricultural structures policy since the 1990s and in individual member states for an even longer period. Europe’s farmers are getting older, and the shortage of ‘new blood’ entering the industry is frequently seen as a problem requiring a policy response to correct.
The ageing of the agricultural population results from a combination of two things: a reduced rate of entry by new young recruits, and a reduced rate of retirement or exit by older farmers. This is taking place in the context of a long term reduction in the agricultural labour force in EU countries.… Read the rest

The future role for the European Innovation Partnership for agricultural productivity and sustainability

One of the new initiatives to be announced by the Commission when it publishes its legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013 on Wednesday 12 October next will be the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for agricultural productivity and sustainability. The Commission attaches great importance to this instrument to address lagging productivity growth in agriculture and to contribute to increased innovation.

To date, there is relatively little information on how this new instrument would work and what it will mean. The Commission is still in the process of internal reflection to define the objectives and governance of the EIP. However, some light is thrown on the Commission’s thinking in the evidence of Commissioners Ciolos and Geoghegan-Quinn to a recent UK House of Lords inquiry into Innovation in EU agriculture.… Read the rest

Rural development & regional policies

RuDI stands for “Rural Development Impacts” and is a consortium of 10 research institutes that has taken an in-depth look at the second pillar of the CAP, examining the rural development programs in all member states and conducting 20 case studies. In addition to calling for more effective use of policy evaluation and bottom-up processes (LEADER), they take issue with the excessive concentration of rural development on agriculture and insufficient integration with other regional policies.

They observe – and endorse – an emerging “new rural paradigm” which

is based on the notion of the multifunctionality of rural areas, where various sectors beyond agriculture are acknowledged to play a key role with regard to rural areas’ competitiveness, and where investments across sectors are considered to be a more appropriate tool than farm subsidies alone.

Read the rest

Rural development & regional policies

RuDI stands for “Rural Development Impacts” and is a consortium of 10 research institutes that has taken an in-depth look at the second pillar of the CAP, examining the rural development programs in all member states and conducting 20 case studies. In addition to calling for more effective use of policy evaluation and bottom-up processes (LEADER), they take issue with the excessive concentration of rural development on agriculture and insufficient integration with other regional policies.
They observe – and endorse – an emerging “new rural paradigm” which

is based on the notion of the multifunctionality of rural areas, where various sectors beyond agriculture are acknowledged to play a key role with regard to rural areas’ competitiveness, and where investments across sectors are considered to be a more appropriate tool than farm subsidies alone.

Read the rest

The limits of (evaluating) rural development policies

The evaluation of rural development policies has improved over the years. The current mid-term evaluation, with all member states applying the sophisticated Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) underpinned by voluminous Commission guidelines, is another step forward. DG Agri is adding further tools to make evaluations even more productive, such as an Internet platform for all stakeholders involved in the evaluation process.

The philosophy of monitoring, learning and adjusting is correct – but it can lead to an excessive trust in our abilities to manage economic processes, including their social and environmental implications. We must recognize the limits of our ability to glean information about the diverse challenges on the ground, to identify the locally diverse and multifaceted effects of policy interventions, to process this information intelligently and impartially, and to draw adequate conclusions.… Read the rest

EU could do better on environmental farming

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 states with CAP funding which is helping farmers create and protect habitats for wildlife. … Read the rest

Farmers queue overnight for subsidies

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 a first come first served’ basis. The decision was taken because this particular funding package is worth just £6 million and is capped at £5,000 per application so only 1,200 farmers stand to benefit. Farmers are to be sleeping out in the cold to ensure they get a good place in the line.… Read the rest

Commission perspectives on agriculture and rural development

For most of its life, DG Agriculture has been concerned with managing agricultural markets, increasing farm productivity and guaranteeing European farmers a good income. In the 1990s, under the leadership of Commissioner Franz Fischler, it began paying more attention to broader economic development and environmental concerns in rural areas. This new interest led to the establishment of the Rural Development Reguation, a suite of new policy instruments (a ‘second pillar’ of the CAP) that comprised a set of mostly farm-based subsidy schemes designed to run alongside the traditional farming policies of the EU’s common market organisations (the ‘first pillar’ of the CAP).… Read the rest

Buckwell expresses doubts about SFP and pillars

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 Association. He was for many years a respected agricultural economics and policy academic at the now sadly diminished Wye College. Perhaps his most interesting role in policy terms was when he spent a year in DG Agri in 1995-6 and chaired a group which wrote a report on a Common Agricultural and Rural Policy for Europe.… Read the rest