EU to tackle farm subsidy reform

Bloc lays out plans to reduce subsidies for large farms and promote smaller ones.

    More than 40 per cent of the EU's $155bn annual budget is spent on farm subsidies (GALLO/GETTY)
    Farmer pressure
     
    The proposals come at a time of rising global food prices and the need to stabilise the food market.

    At the start of talks in Brussels on Monday, EU agriculture ministers agreed that food production needed to be increased.

    But most of them spoke against dismantling the system of farm subsidies and regulation as demanded by Britain.

    The commission also faces strong pressure from farmers not to cut their subsidies.

    Gerd Sonnleitner, vice-president of COPA (committee of professional agricultural organisations), a farmers' lobby, defended the CAP.  

    Sonnleitner said: "We are a strong economic power, we offer citizens high-quality, cheap food, reasonably priced food and the CAP policy can insure that this will remain so in the future."

    Traditional farming

    The blueprint for reform needs to be approved by the EU's 27 member states and the European parliament before it can take effect.

    More than 40 per cent of the EU's $155bn annual budget is spent on farm subsidies, traditionally a part of the budget that is set years in advance.

    Currently, 20 percent of farmers receive 80 per cent of the direct farm subsidies in the EU's 27 member states, with France the biggest beneficiary.

    Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU's agriculture commissioner, called for the EU to take a more hands-off approach to farming in Europe, doing away with production-linked subsidies, which would give farmers more freedom to chose what and how much to grow or produce.

    The commission said it wanted to progressively cut subsidies to farms according to the sum they get and shift the money saved to protect and promote traditional family farms.

    Gerda Verburg, the Netherlands minister of agriculture and food quality, said: "The European common policy can help to relieve the problems but that's not easy because we have negated too long the investments in agriculture."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?