EU farm policy – the common agricultural policy – serves many purposes:
EU farm policy has evolved considerably in recent decades to help farmers face new challenges and also in response to changing public attitudes. Successive reforms mean that farmers now base their production decisions on market demand, rather on decisions taken in Brussels.
The most recent reforms, in 2013, shifted the focus towards:
Other important aspects are:
World food production needs to double by 2050 to cater for population growth and wealthier consumers eating more animal products – at the same time as dealing with the impact of climate change (loss of biodiversity, deteriorating soil and water quality).
Our policy is to give farmers advice on investment and innovation, to help them with this task.
Agriculture is one area of policy where EU governments have agreed to fully pool responsibility – along with the necessary public funding. So instead of policy and financial support being directed by each individual country, they are the responsibility of the EU as a whole.
As a share of the EU budget, farm spending has dropped sharply from its peak in the 1970s of nearly 70% to around 38% today. This reflects both an expansion of the EU's other responsibilities and cost savings from reforms. Since 2004, for example, the EU has welcomed 13 new member countries without any increase in farm spending.