food

AGAINST the Common Agricultural Policy

FOR the Common Agricultural Policy

1. WASTE

By ignoring the rules of supply and demand, the Common Agricultural Policy is hugely wasteful. It leads to overproduction, forming mountains of surplus produce which are either destroyed or dumped on developing nations undermining the livelihoods of farmers there. A free market would ensure a more effective allocation of resources. Managing the CAP eats up vast amounts of money: an estimated €700 per farm.

1. PUTTING FOOD ON EUROPE’S PLATE

CAP gives Europe food security. Without it, we would be dangerously dependent on fluctuating imports. Farmers need the stability CAP provides. Left to the mercy of the market, they couldn’t invest in improvements to productivity, food safety or environment protection. CAP ensures Europeans have stable food supplies at reasonable prices. As global warming increasingly impacts on harvests it’s even more important to protect domestic food supplies. Without CAP, all 27 EU nations would develop their own competing farm support systems creating single market chaos.

2. SO MUCH FROM SO MANY TO SO FEW

Farmers represent 5.4 percent of the EU’s population. They generate a mere 1.6 percent of the Union’s GDP. Yet they receive 47 percent of the EU’s total budget through CAP handouts. Europe’s taxpayers hand over €58 billion in subsidies to this tiny, unproductive minority. In times of economic hardship that just doesn’t make sense.

2. PROTECTING THE RURAL COMMUNITIES

Europe’s rural communities are under threat. With farmers’ incomes only about half the average EU wage, it’s no surprise that over the last decade agricultural employment fell by 25 percent. Every year Europe has 2 percent fewer farmers. Around 60 percent of the EU population lives in the countryside which covers 90 percent of the Union’s territory. The countryside is one of our greatest and farmers need help to protect the rural environment and way of life. Today’s reformed CAP offers training for farmers, assistance to young farmers starting up. Subsidies are increasingly orientated toward rural development.

3. HELPING THE RICH GET RICHER

The idea that the CAP protects small farmers and the rural way of life is a myth. Eighty percent of CAP aid goes to just 25 percent of farms. The biggest slice of the subsidy pie is handed to the landed gentry, environment- destroying mega-farm and vast agro-industrial conglomerates. Figures from the UK show Queen Elizabeth II gets around half-a-million euro a year. Food industry giants like Campina or Nestle have been handed hundreds of millions. Small-scale European farmers get little and poor farmers in developing nations are shut out of European markets.

3. TASTY EUROPEAN FOOD VARIETY

Europe has the world’s best food and CAP promotes quality and diversity. Under CAP, 750 traditional local foods are protected along with 2,000 wines and spirits – from Newmarket sausages and Azores pineapples to Rioja and Beaujolais. Abolishing the CAP would put such delights under threat and put Europe on a diet of bland processed foods churned out by US-style factory farms. Recent reforms ensure the EU is a world leader in promoting food safety and the development of organic produce.

4. WE ALL PAY MORE

CAP is a double whammy for your wallet. Taxpayers fork out billions in subsidies then pay again when CAP artificially inflates food prices. CAP supporters say this is a price to pay for food security – that’s nonsense. With free trade we could import bountiful cheap food from the United States, Canada, China and elsewhere in the globalized world. Food security just isn’t a problem. CAP artificially shields farmers from healthy competition hindering the evolution of more modern, more efficient agriculture.

4. PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT, SUPPORTING DEVELOPMENT

Increasingly CAP is used to protect the rural environment. Farmers get more if they sign up to agro-environment commitments – using fewer chemicals; leaving boundaries uncultivated; maintaining ponds, trees and hedges; protecting wildlife. EU food surpluses help developing countries by providing a source of cheap food. It’s ridiculous to suggest the CAP is protectionist or harms developing countries because the EU remains the world’s biggest importer of food, buying in €65 billion a year. Europe imports more food from developing countries than the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand put together. CAP also ensures that the EU is also the world’s second largest food exporter.