The interinstitutional negotiations for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2020 are underway. The opportunity to take stock of this controversial aid. For the period 2015-2020, it represents 40% of the EU budget, including 9 billion euro for France, distributed to farmers according to strict rules of negotiation. The EU wants therefore to decrease the CAP share in its budget for after 2020.
Created in 1962, the CAP is made of two funds: the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the European Rural Development Fund (EAFRD). Its initial goal was to revive food production on the continent devastated by the war, while ensuring satisfactory incomes for farmers and decent prices for consumers. Abolition of customs duties, export subsidy, taxation of imports, introduction of a guaranteed price system (the unsold production is bought by the EU, which allows farmers not to suffer from the hazard of the market); in the 60’s, the CAP had a big impact. Farm production and incomes increased drastically, farms modernized and the cost of food fell for consumers.
But today, the CAP is questioned. It must be said that the stakes have changed, which does not allow it to be as efficient. Climate, biodiversity, water, employment; these issues are to be added to a demographic change: from too many farmers in the countryside, there is not enough anymore. There is also the issue of food quality, which is more and more important to the consumer. The aid has thus become inappropriate. For example, the CAP encourages economies of scale. The larger the cultivated area, the greater the subsidies. However, small farms are developing, which do respond to the societal demand. In the current state of affairs, these are not encouraged. Another problem, the CAP represents sometimes up to the entire income of the farmer. It therefore promotes the statu quo and does not encourage the transition to agroecology.
So, what proposals for the future? It would be interesting to have a better distribution of subsidies. Currently there are two pillars: the first is linked to the surface of the farm (260 euro per square kilometer on average) and depends on the quality of products, the reduction of consumption of phytosanitary products and of animal welfare … The problem is that the first pillar represents 80% of the aid and the second only 20%. It is therefore useful to rebalance the CAP. It would be necessary that it is distributed not according to the agricultural area but according to the value added by the farm, whether in terms of agro-environment, product quality, but also number of jobs, so that farmers redirect their system.
In France, it remains to be hoped for a real cooperation between the new minister of ecological and solidarity transition, François de Rugy and the Ministry of Agriculture and his tutor, Stéphane Travert for a real reform of the CAP.