Seeds of change for E.U. farm subsidies

Stephen Beard May 20, 2008
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Seeds of change for E.U. farm subsidies

Stephen Beard May 20, 2008
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Renita Jablonski: The European Union is stepping up its effort to reform its system of farm subsidies. But as Stephen Beard reports from London, that won’t mean less taxpayers money winding up in the farmer’s pocket.


Stephen Beard: The E.U.’s farm subsidy system, the Common Agricultural Policy, costs a cool $62 billion a year. It’s long been deeply unpopular with European taxpayers.

Today, the E.U. unveils the latest proposals for reform. They aim among other things to end permanently the policy of set-aside. That’s the practice of paying farmers to leave 10 percent of their land fallow. It was designed in another era to prevent the overproduction of certain crops.

As farmer’s spokesman Tom Hind concedes, that policy looks more and more irrelevant:

Tom Hind: With the market conditions for cereals at the moment and the requirement for food production, those objectives are no longer valid.

But in spite of the soaring price of cereals, E.U. farm subsidies won’t be reduced, just redirected. Under the reforms announced today, farmers will get more money for adopting environment-friendly methods.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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