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Farm income support: much money, little evidence

The fragmentary evidence that is available suggests that, far from being a disadvantaged sector of society, EU farm households as a group have relatively high incomes compared to the rest of society. But the EU has abandoned earlier efforts to produce regular statistics of farm households’ total income – though this would be feasible at reasonable costs. Perhaps it is the fear of the light that worries the EU agricultural policymakers, writes Berkeley Hill, Professor Emeritus of Policy Analysis at the University of London.

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Which member states pay for the waste of public money?

The closer that CAP reform negotiations come to the finish line, the more will member states look at their financial bottom line. ‘How much do we pay, how much do we get?’ That question will concern finance ministers and heads of states at least as much as the objectives and instruments the CAP funds are spent on. Here are some interesting calculations.

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Silence around pesticides

The spraying of DDT and other pesticides provoked the 1962 book ‘Silent spring’, one of the early landmarks of environmentalism. How rich in biodiversity is the spring of 2010, and how many bird songs are missing because of pesticide use? Daniel Lesinsky, board member of Pesticide Action Network Europe, responds.

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The historic roots of agricultural protectionism in Europe

The historic roots of agricultural protectionism in Europe are deep - going back to the 19th century. Agriculture is not special in itself but a classical example of special interests defending their rents to the detriment of collective welfare.

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The German government vs the German experts

The reformist zeal of the 15 professors in the German scientific advisory board on agriculture is remarkable, and their statement (in German) largely concurs with the declaration for ‘A Common Agricultural Policy for European Public Goods’ signed by experts from all across Europe half a year ago. The statement even goes beyond the recent proposals (in German) made by the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU): agricultural economists overtake environmental experts in their demands for CAP reform.

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A smarter CAP debate

A new series of seminars on CAP reform starts on May 19th in Brussels. 'Rural Development Policy in the EU – Lessons from the Past and Options for the Future' examines evaluation studies of second-pillar programs and summarizes their implications for the post-2013 CAP.

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Where does civil society stand on CAP reform? A coalition game

Dacian Ciolos, Commissioner for Agriculture, has launched a public debate on the future of the CAP beyond 2013. The results will be presented on a conference in July 2010, but the main interests and positions can already be anticipated. Promoters of a lean CAP are in the minority, and risk losing out to a coalition of rural interests, altermondialists and environmentalists.

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Winning the intellectual argument but losing the political battle

We are moving towards a near-consensus among intellectually-minded reformers that the CAP should be fundamentally reshaped to promote European public goods. And we are getting more solid work on what these European public goods are and how we could support them efficiently. At the same time, defenders of the old-style CAP continue to dominate in the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament. We have the chance for real change after 2013 – but if we continue on this trajectory, we will waste the opportunity.

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A guide to the CAP web page jungle

More sites dedicated to the CAP are becoming available and multi-issue sites improve their coverage of CAP issues. A structured selection of CAP blogs, Internet platforms and research institutes can be found here. This post takes a closer, comparative look at three leading sites: cap2020, capreform and reformthecap.

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Rename the CAP!

Names matter, and Common Agricultural Policy is the wrong name for a policy promoting European public goods related to land use.

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