As lawmakers in the United States are on the cusp of presenting a quickly formulated farm policy proposal that could be presented to the supercommittee, and ultimately included in the 12-member bi-cameral, bi-partisan group’s deficit reduction plan that Congress could vote on by the end of the year, farm policy changes in the EU appear to be moving forward at a much slower pace.
Reuters writer Nigel Hunt reported on Monday that, “The European Union faces protracted negotiations to agree reforms to its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with proposals issued earlier this month by its executive body poorly received by member states, Britain’s farming minister said on Monday.
“‘The impression I get is that all of us (EU farm ministers) have given them (the European Commission) a pretty poor response,’ Farming Minister Jim Paice told reporters at the CropWorld 2011 conference.
“‘There were many different viewpoints from member states,’ he said, referring to comments made at a meeting of farm ministers a few days ago. ‘The one common theme was a need for simplicity and a widespread perception that the proposals are making life more complicated.’”
The Reuters article noted that, “Paice said it was unlikely an agreement would be reached in time to be implemented in 2014 and there needed to be discussion about an interim plan.”
“Some countries such as Poland do not believe the plan goes far enough to even out the imbalances in aid paid to farmers in western Europe versus less well-off producers in the east,” Monday’s article said.
Meanwhile, Jan Cienski reported today at The Financial Times Online that, “Czeslaw Janicki sits behind the wheel of his battered Toyota 4×4 and slowly drives us round a large open area between two long low barns crowded with black and white Holstein-Friesian cattle.
“‘Look how clean they are – this is modern agriculture,’ he says proudly before we bump off down a narrow asphalt road. He gestures at the large fields to the left and the right. ‘All of this land belongs to us.’”
The FT article explained that, “Mr Janicki and his farm show the new face of agriculture in Poland, moving on from the stereotype of tiny fields worked by peasants with horse-drawn ploughs.”
Tuesday’s article pointed out that, “A significant factor in the transformation of agriculture has been the EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP), which this year is expected to pay out €3.3bn to Polish farmers. EU funds account for most of Mr Janicki’s profit, but the money has also made it possible for a huge number of small and unproductive farmers to stay on the land.
“‘For many farmers, the EU funds are a question of whether or not they will continue to exist,’ says Bozena Karwat-Wozniak of the Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics, a Polish research institute.
“She points out that CAP subsidies alone amount to about a fifth of farm earnings, while billions more in EU funds for modernisation and ecological programmes have helped revive the countryside.”