November 21, 2008
EU to usher in agricultural reforms

EU farm ministers have agreed to agricultural reforms that would reduce farm subsidies and shift more investments into rural development.


The agreement was reached on Thursday (November 20, 2008) to cut subsidies in some agricultural production and shift funding to environmental protection and rural development projects. Milk quotas would also be increased slightly each year before liberalising the market in 2015.


The reforms aim to make EU farmers more competitive by breaking the link of production level and the amount of received subsidies. The reforms also aim to make agriculture more sustainable and environmentally friendly.


The agreement offers EU farmers more protection and more balance in government support, according to French agricultural minister Michel Barnier.


However, not all are happy with the reforms.


The changes are not helpful to small farmers and the policy has unfair distribution and lacks legitimacy, said Gerard Choplin, spokesman for the European Farmers Coordination Via Campesina.


The changes also do not deal with complaints by developing countries that subsidised EU agricultural products are undercutting their own production, according to Choplin.


For example, Choplin said, increasing quotas on EU milk output indicates a surplus of cheap European milk will be exported to poorer countries, hurting dairy farmers there.
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