The OECD is arguing that currently relatively high farm prices provide a window of opportunity to scrap farm subsidies: OECD
If only it were so, but the underlying politics does not permit it. Farmers will point out that input prices have also risen and mobilise food security arguments to justify the need for subsidies. Veteran Farmers Weekly columnist David Richardson is even waving the threat of food rationing in the latest attempt to alarm politicians and consumers.
In fact the rise in commodity prices has reduced the share of farm incomes that comes from subsidies. Across the OECD countries this fell from 22 per cent in 2009 to 8 per cent in 2010. It is consistent with a long-term declining trend.
This is not because subsidies have been cut in response to the fiscal crisis, but because of a reduction in countercyclical payments. Even so the 34 OECD member countries spent $277bn last year subsidising their farmers. Subsidies account for about 9 per cent of US farmers' income, but the figure is 28 per cent in the EU.
China has jumped on the subsidies bandwagon. The amount paid out last year went up to a record $147bn, an increase of 40 per cent on the preceding year. This pushed the share of Chinese farm income drawn from subsidies to 17 per cent, near the OECD average of 18 per cent. Direct payments to grain farmers in China have been consistently increasing since their introduction in 2004.
Britain and Poland have issued a joint statement calling for CAP reform and in particular less emphasis on Pillar 1. Poland joining the reform camp is a step forward, although it is interesting that one of the stipulations is a convergence of direct payments across the EU. See more here: Poland