CAP is failing small farmers in Europe and in poorest countries

Published: 12 December 2005

The EU must agree to an overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2008 at the latest as part of any budget deal at this week’s Heads of State Summit meeting if it is to save small farmers in Europe and in the developing world from another decade of misery. Oxfam is urging EU member states not to sell out small farmers in Europe and the developing world by agreeing a new EU budget without a concrete guarantee for a full-scale overhaul of the CAP at the earliest opportunity.

The EU must agree to an overhaul of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2008 at the latest as part of any budget deal at this week’s Heads of State Summit meeting if it is to save small farmers in Europe and in the developing world from another decade of misery.


Oxfam is urging EU member states not to sell out small farmers in Europe and the developing world by agreeing a new EU budget without a concrete guarantee for a full-scale overhaul of the CAP at the earliest opportunity.

Luis Morago, Head of Oxfam International in Brussels said: “It’s time people took off their rose-tinted glasses and saw the current CAP regime for what it is – a grossly unfair, unsustainable system which helps the rich get richer quicker while small farmers in the developing world and Europe grow poorer."
 
Figures from 2003 show that:

  • Poor farmers in France, the strongest defender of the current regime, receive just 10% of CAP subsidies while 50% of their small farmers have disappeared over the past 20 years.
  • In the UK farmers in the economically depressed Peak District have seen their incomes halve over the past decade falling to an average of £7,500 (US$13,300). An elite three per cent of landowners gobble up one fifth of total CAP payments to the UK.
  • Spain, the top 18% of big farmers receive 76% of all subsidies and 37,000 family run farms disappear each year in Spain.


Morago added: “There is a common misconception that the CAP is about helping small struggling farmers and looking after the European rural environment. But in reality the bulk of these funds end up in the pockets of the wealthiest farmers and processors while also doing enormous harm to developing countries as a result of encouraging dumping."

On the eve of the WTO talks in Hong Kong, the EU’s failure to offer real cuts to farm subsidies that encourage dumping and tariffs has been a major sticking point of the Doha Development Round negotiations.

Morago added: “Offers on the table by both the EU and US fall far short of what is needed to move these talks forward but the EU could break the impasse by committing to a root and branch reform of the CAP. Failure do so would send a very bad message to negotiators in Hong Kong and could result in the EU being blamed for potential failure of Doha talks in Hong Kong.”

In other revelations, Oxfam has found:

  • 78% of the 5.2 million beneficiaries of CAP receive less than 5,000 euro a year (US$6,000)
  • 1.8% of recipients receive some 500,000 euros or above


Oxfam last month also published a report that revealed the EU pays $4.2 billion in subsidies which are illegal under WTO rules.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Louis Belanger, Oxfam press officer in Brussels on +32 473 562 260, or
Harriet Binet, Oxfam press officer in Oxford on +44 (0)1865 472313 +44 (0)7786 1100 54