Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

Now I know that a few of my readers may well have already gone red in the face, in the knowledge that all that money that is paid into the EU is then distributed to farmers to ensure they can continue to run round in Landover Defenders; well maybe not all the money, the latest figures allocate about 30% of all EU funding to agriculture with an additional 11% to rural development which encompasses more than just farms. Still that’s a lot of Range Rovers, although if you are from the UK you can take solace in the fact that they are manufactured in England!

My personal gripe about the CAP is that its emphasis is \ was on larger farms, the consequences of which led to the massive food surpluses of the 1980’s; back then almost 70% of all EU money went to farmers and this resulted in a more American monoculture way of farming, which in turn impacted heavily on the environment. Greater use of pesticides and fertilisers, which amongst other things effected the bee population, polluted natural water aquifers and ultimately leaves the land unusable unless chemically enhanced. No doubt the chemical industry bosses are driving round in Ferraris courtesy of EU funding, albeit indirectly.

Of course now I have a slightly skewed view, in that as the owner of three and a half hectares (around 7.5 acres) of agricultural land I am in receipt of funds from those nice people in Brussels. But before you start screaming at me that I’m sponging off the UK tax payer I’ll quickly mention that we receive approximately £300 per year, which just about covers the fuel required to meet the requirements set down to be able to claim the funds in the first place. How daft is that? I’d probably be better off without it!

But then I realised why the CAP could be a good thing, with the emphasis on could; as the powers that be have positioned themselves over the decades to be able to mould how farming is carried out in the future. As all farmers in Europe receive some kind of funding then conditions could be applied to ensure that greener and more sustainable practices are followed. And, believe it or not, that appears to be the direction that they are now taking in Brussels. Although as you would expect they will probably take a number of years before they come into effect.

Without boring you too much, in fact I’d be surprised if you got this far, the two key points that interest me most are:

· Steps to encouraging more crop diversification, maintaining permanent pasture and ecological focused areas in larger farms, whilst relaxing rules for smaller environmentally certified farms (like us)

· A cap on the amount of money paid to larger farms with an overall reduction in payments to the largest farms of up to 70% (this is the farms that claim €300,000 + every year)

So here’s to the CAP and the EU, it looks like they may be heading in the right direction at long last. Although you have to wonder how farming in Europe would have developed had we never had the policy in the first place? I’m pretty certain that each member state would now have far better food security and we wouldn’t have destroyed a lot of the biodiversity that used to make a farm a farm.

Hopefully these changes, if they ever happen, will allow Gosia and I to have a working ‘closed cycle farm’ running alongside what I can only described as a ‘Farm House Bed and Breakfast’. And if we are lucky enough to get a few hundred pounds a year to subsidise our dream then I’ll happily accept it. Incidentally I drive a Lada Niva 🙂

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Author: Eddy Winko

Trying to leave the rat race and live a less hectic and harmful life. From the building of a straw bale house to the composting toilet diaries; read my blog https://winkos.wordpress.com/

6 thoughts on “Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)”

  1. It’s a big subject, thank you for your comment; I didn’t expect anybody would know anything about it so I kept it short and sweet.
    I think the bad press comes from the big subsidies to big farms, as you quite rightly say the small operations are the people who really need them and from what I’ve seen they are the people who actually make a difference.
    My biggest challenge is getting things translated! Hopefully the changes will include a requirement for the guidelines to be provided in English as well as Polish 

  2. My last job involved assessing/scoring agri-environment plans to ensure they provide ecological/wildlife benefits for crofts here. Without support this crucial funding, including from the EU, small scale subsistence farming management to benefit wildlife (like yours too) would die completely. Small management measures undertaken through financial incentives have made a huge difference to increase the corncrake population here, but continued funding is needed, for sure. Large farms are a very different issue, and I would endorse a cap but for tiny operations at the margins of profitability or even just viability that have a high pro-rata (per hectare) return for wildlife, subsidies are worthwhile. You are right though, changes take many years to implement, and that is frustrating. I could talk about this for hours, so will stop now. Keep up the good work. You deserve your tiny pot, especially given the complex hoops you will have had to negotiate to acquire it!

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