EU Agriculture plans ‘a missed opportunity’

14 October 2011

EU Agriculture plans ‘a missed opportunity’

'A missed opportunity’ – this was SP Member of Parliament Henk van Gerven’s initial reaction to the plans for the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the years 2014-2020 presented today by the European Commission. Whilst it’s true that there will be more possibilities to reward farmers for their management of the natural environment and a more varied and sustainable production, the Commission fails to act decisively, as Van Gerven notes. 'They fail to put an end to the mass import of soya from Latin America,’ he points out. ‘Neither speculation around food and raw materials, nor price instability is effectively combated. And a lot of money will be pumped back and forth in a bureaucratic fashion. First we pay it over to Brussels for the development of nature and landscape, and then we get it back in an equally bureaucratic manner.’

The European Commission’s plans still strongly resemble those of the early days of the European Union when subsidies paid to farmers were aimed at maximising production. That was the time of the butter mountains. This system is outdated, yet there remain a great many income subsidies for the farmers in the EU plans. “A farmer has to be able to live off the profits from his or her produce. That means there has to be a fair price which would put an end to dependence on subsidies. If the farmer can’t do this, there’s something wrong with the system. Furthermore, there are still millionaires receiving subsidies at the expense of small farmers. Yet this appalling system is being maintained.”

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