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Spending money to pay it out

One of the many drawbacks of the CAP is that it costs a lot of money to run which reduces the sums that reach the supposed beneficiaries. It has now emerged in response to a parliamentary question that each claim for the Single Farm Payment (SFP), irrespective of its value costs £742 to process. Junior Defra minister Jane Kennedy said that the figure was obtained by considering the direct processing costs and the total number of claims received.… Read the rest

Tenant farmer tells it like it is

I have a lot of sympathy with tenant farmers. It is sometimes said that farmers are asset rich but income poor, by which it is meant that they own a lot of extremely valuable land but don’t make a whole lot of profit from working it. In the case of tenant farmers, who have to rent their land, they are too often asset poor and income poor.

The UK Tenant Farmers Association recently held its annual jamboree and, fresh back from his half term holiday in Egypt, National Chairman Greg Bliss gave a speech. He used the occasion to share some observations about agriculture policy that I thought might be of interest to readers of this blog.… Read the rest

French CAP plan nixed by Council

Today’s meeting of the Agriculture Council witnessed the frequently irrestistable force of French attachment to the Common Agricultural Policy run into the occasionally immovable object of UK, Swedish and new member state desire for change. The result was that a much-trumpeted French vision paper for the future of the CAP beyond 2013 was roundly rejected. In the end France used it’s presidential prerogative to adopt the paper as ‘Presidency conclusions’ but as such it has no political weight whatsoever. Some will remember that UK vision paper for the CAP lauched in the final weeks of its own EU presidency at the end of 2005 met a similar fate.… Read the rest

Rising food prices and the dangers of imported inflation

When UK Chancellor Alistair Darling wrote to his finance minister colleagues on ECOFIN last month he made the case for reducing agricultural trade barriers and EU farm subsidies as a way of addressing what has become known as the ‘global food crisis’. Quite rightly much of the world’s attention has been focussed on the impact of rising food prices on the world’s poor. But a more motivating factor for the UK could be the fact that higher food prices presents the UK economy with the very serious problem of imported inflation.… Read the rest

GM feed ban crisis

A row over the banning of GM feed by British supermarkets raises wider issues about how far new technology can be used to solve problems of world food shortage. There have been calls for a second ‘green revolution’, but the first green revolution was based on intensive use of fertilisers and irrigation. Fertilisers are rocketing in price while irrigation is a less environmentally friendly option in a time of climate change.… Read the rest

Farm land price boom

The cost of agricultural holdings across the EU has risen to record levels. However, this is not entirely good news for farmers. It makes it even harder for those who do not inherit to enter the industry, while only farmers wanting to retire can cash in. Tenant farmers face higher prices making life more difficult for them.… Read the rest

Darling’s daring bid for reform

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (aka Finance Minister) Alistair Darling wrote earlier this week to all his counterparts on the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) ahead of today’s meeting, setting out the case for a radical reform of the EU’s agriculture and trade policies. Specifically, he calls for the abolition of direct aids (some €34 billion a year) and the abolition of EU tariffs on agricultural imports. He also signals the growing concern in the UK about the EU’s headlong rush into food-for-fuel policies that are widely seen as contributing to the rapidly rising costs of food in Europe and elsewhere.… Read the rest

Darling's daring bid for reform

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (aka Finance Minister) Alistair Darling wrote earlier this week to all his counterparts on the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) ahead of today’s meeting, setting out the case for a radical reform of the EU’s agriculture and trade policies. Specifically, he calls for the abolition of direct aids (some €34 billion a year) and the abolition of EU tariffs on agricultural imports. He also signals the growing concern in the UK about the EU’s headlong rush into food-for-fuel policies that are widely seen as contributing to the rapidly rising costs of food in Europe and elsewhere.… Read the rest

Food security fears mount

Fears of unrest are increasing in developing countries as shortages develop of staple foods or prices increase substantially. Governments have cut import tariffs to cope with the problem, but hoarding to take advantage of future price rises has exacerbated the difficulties being encountered.… Read the rest