The future of agricultural policy – are farmers really crying for naught?
Everybody wants their daily bread and other sources of sustenance to be healthful and made in a way that is responsible with regard to the environment.
This forces the writer to ask which of the goals of the European Common Agricultural Policy set up half a century ago are still salient. For example, is increasing productivity in today’s Europe – one of the most intensively farmed areas of the world – still a relevant goal, or would it be more appropriate to speak of optimizing productivity? Just as questionable is the goal in today’s world of keeping consumer prices low through subsidization. On top of it all, practice shows that this goal is simply unrealistic: during the economic boom years, prices climbed in spite of subsidies. To sum up, the author believes that no doubt the common agricultural policy continues to require change: the level of subsidization should be uniform in all member states and subsidies should be clearly tied to public interests; bureaucracy should also be reduced. Taxpayers want to see where and why their money is allocated, while farmers want a clear picture as to what is desired of them in return for subsidies. At the same time, policy cannot wholly rely on subsidies. For instance, it would be time to think about harmonizing fertilizer and pesticide excise duties throughout the EU – after all, in all other sectors we want to implement the polluter-pays principle.