Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, October 17, 2011

Greening Euro Farming

As the most expensive EU program, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is regularly controversial. And this time the debate is between the Commission's experts, farmers, and environmentalists.

EU plans CAP reforms for 'greener' farm subsidies
The European Union has announced plans to reform its Common Agricultural Policy - its most expensive scheme, and one of the most controversial…

The European Commission does not want to cut the budget, but change its priorities - including linking direct payments to environmental measures.

But farming, environmental and taxpayer groups all have their own concerns about the plans…

The Commission said the aim of the reforms was to "strengthen the competitiveness, sustainability and permanence of agriculture throughout the EU in order to secure for European citizens a healthy and high-quality source of food, preserve the environment and develop rural areas".

It said the changes would gradually move rewards away from intensive farming to more sustainable practices…

The European Union has announced plans to reform its Common Agricultural Policy - its most expensive scheme, and one of the most controversial.

The CAP cost 58bn euros (£51bn; $80bn) last year - 47% of the whole EU budget.

The European Commission does not want to cut the budget, but change its priorities - including linking direct payments to environmental measures.

But farming, environmental and taxpayer groups all have their own concerns about the plans.

The proposals include:
  • keeping EU farm spending about level until 2020
  • capping the total subsidy a large farm can receive at 300,000 euros
  • levelling imbalances in payments: to subsidise acreage farmed rather than production totals; and
  • bring payments in the eastern EU up to levels in the west
  • ending sugar production quotas
  • making 30% of the "direct payment" income support payments received by farmers dependent on environmental criteria.
Those environmental criteria include:
  • arable farmers growing at least three different crops, with none exceeding 70% of the total farm area
  • farmers leaving 7% of their land fallow
  • ensuring permanent pasture is maintained
The Commission said the aim of the reforms was to "strengthen the competitiveness, sustainability and permanence of agriculture throughout the EU..."

It said the changes would gradually move rewards away from intensive farming to more sustainable practices... 

Farming unions fear farmers will face even more bureaucracy in order to qualify for the payments on which they rely to continue in business…

Lobby group Friends of the Earth said the proposals would continue subsidising factory farming, and not do enough to change farming practices…

The Commission's plans will be subject to debate and revision, before they are agreed by EU governments and the European Parliament.

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