Friday, September 20, 2013

Farm subsidies up again across the world

A long-term trend towards a decline in farm support was reversed in 2012 according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): OECD Report

This is perhaps a surprising development, given that government budgets are under pressure and farm subsidies offer a possible, although well-defended target. However, the OECD noted a particular trend towards increasing support in countries that emphasise self-sufficiency and they think that this has a poor relationship with food security.

This is a concern as self-sufficiency has been raised again recently in the UK debate by the NFU. Admittedly, there has been a decline in self-sufficiency in indigenous food between 1984 (95 per cent) and 2012 (76 per cent). (When foods from non-temperate climates are added in, the figure drops to 62 per cent). One might ask what the relevance of this is given that the UK operates within the CAP, but if the UK was to leave the EU this kind of discourse might become more relevant.

Admittedly, the overall increase in subsidies was 1 per cent, but that masked some sharp increases in emerging countries: 4 percentage points in China to 17 per cent of total income; 6 percentage points in Indonesia to 21 per cent; and 4 percentage points in Kazakhstan to 15 per cent. Norway provided the largest level of farm support with a 63 per cent share, up four percentage points. Switzerland, Japan and Korea were all over the 50 per cent of farmers' income level.

Farm support in the EU was consistent with the general trend, rising from 18 per cent to 19 per cent of farm incomes.

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