CAP: How green is my subsidy
3 septembrie 2009
The Daily Telegraph
Countries like the UK are increasingly rankled that, while being forced to increase their contribution to the EU's CAP fund, most subsidies are siphoned off to multinationals and food conglomerates with little connection to traditional farming. Henry Samuels in the Daily Telegraph discovers, however, that the CAP remains a lifeline for small and medium sized French farms.
Almost 550 acres of wheat, barley, peas and sugar beet stretch out behind the small stone farmhouse where Nicolas Galpin lives with his family. Looking at the crops on the edge of Auvernaux, population 317, it is hard to believe the farm is just a few miles south of the Paris metropolis and 15 minutes' drive from the last overground suburban train stop. But this is France, Europe's agricultural powerhouse, where farms start at the gates of the capital. These range from small, Jean de Florette-style farmlets to huge, highly efficient and mechanised operations.
Such agricultural might comes at a huge price, however, in the shape of EU subsidies via the Common Agricultural Policy. At €55 billion, the CAP accounts for 42 percent of the EU budget, making it the largest agricultural aid programme in the world. This is a price that many less farm-rich nations find too high to stomach, and one that developing countries and aid agencies say is wrecking world trade. The EU is supposed to begin reducing CAP subsidies. But the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has fought to preserve the budget intact – and now EU officials are also about to abandon a promised wider review of all EU spending. Read the full article in Daily Telegraph here.