Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is a radical approach to CAP reform off the agenda?

In the latest issue of Eurochoices the editor John Davis suggests that 'Those who favour a more radical approach to policy development [in the CAP] may now be considered "outliers".' He notes that CAP reform has followed an evolutionary path, which is certainly the case, and that as a consequence the Producer Support Estimate (PSE) has been reduced from around 35 per cent in the late 1990s to about 24 per cent in 2009 which is close to the OECD average (although the US figure is 10 per cent).

Of course, in the absence of any radical impetus, we may not progress much further. Those who take a relatively radical position may help to produce compromise positions which still lead to real progress on reform.

It is interesting that elsewhere in the issue an article by David Harvey and Attila Jambor point out the flaws in the conception that Single Farm Payments should now be interpreted as payments for public goods.

They note, 'In fact, these payments derive from and largely reflect previous coupled and production related support. They are a supplement to production-related market returns, and are treated as such by farmers.' As for cross-compliance it is 'often regarded as an unnecessary and irritating condition attached to deserved support for commercial farming.'

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