EU has a unique chance to reform farmers’ subsidies

THE EUROPEAN Union has a “unique opportunity” to cut back billions of euros worth of subsidies paid out to farmers every year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said yesterday.

The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) takes up nearly 45 per cent of its entire budget, totalling around €53bn; additional support for farmers takes the total to €77bn.

Yet the proportion of farmers’ income emanating from the CAP has been falling, From 1986-88, around 39 per cent of farmers’ total annual receipts came from government support, yet this figure fell to 22 per cent in 2008-10, the OECD found.

“Expected growth in demand and higher real commodity prices offer tremendous opportunities,” said the OECD’s Ken Ash. “A window has opened for re-orientation of policy away from broad income support and towards investments in a strong and competitive agri-food sector,” he said.