On Monday night this week, the BBC aired a television programme in the UK on the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy’s subsidy system. Focusing on two main concerns, Samantha Poling (BBC Scotland’s investigations correspondent) looked at: (1) a loophole in the system that allows subsidy trading leading to millions of pounds of public money being paid out to businessmen who do no farming at all; and (2) the large payments (in some cases six-figure subsidies) made to wealthy individuals simply on the basis of them owning large amounts of land. In the meantime, those that the subsidies are intended to help (young, new and struggling farmers) continue to suffer economic hardship and constraints.
Links to a few relevant publications, including an article about the BBC programme, are given below.
BBC article: Rich landowners paid millions in farming subsidies
EU Press release, October 2011 on the European Commission’s plans to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013
Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) Factor Markets Working Paper No. 16, February 2012 by Pavel Ciaian, d’Artis Kancs, Jo Swinnen, Kristine Van Herck and Liesbet Vranken “Institutional Factors Affecting Agricultural Land Markets"
A forthcoming CABI book by B. Hill “Farm Incomes, Wealth and Agricultural Policy”, 4th edition, which will argue that although the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been supporting the incomes of the European Union's agricultural community for half a century, there is still no official system in place to track the economic wellbeing of farmers and their families. The book will examine the evidence on the overall wealth of farming households, and conclude that in nearly all member states, they are not generally a poor sector of society, with disposable incomes that are similar to, or exceed, the national average. This updated edition will discuss the latest evidence, make recommendations for gathering better information, and consider the implications for the CAP as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.