22nd May 2019

EU farm subsidies under fire from Irish rock star

EU farm subsidies create unnecessarily high grocery prices for European consumers while depriving African farmers of their livelihood, a British daily announced on Tuesday (16 May) in a new campaign.

While British households pay an extra €1,222 a year for groceries due to EU trade-distorting subsidies to the union's own farmers, dumping of subsidised EU produce in African countries is forcing local producers out of business, The Independent reports.

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"Not only does the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) hit European shoppers in their pockets but strikes a blow against the heart of development in places like Africa," Claire Godfrey, trade policy adviser for Oxfam told the daily.

"The CAP lavishes subsidies on the UK's wealthiest farmers and biggest landowners at the expense of millions of poorest farmers in the developing world," she added in the first of a series of articles on Africa co-edited by Irish rock star and charity activist Bono.

The EU gives its farmers around €43 billion a year in subsidies and grants, with European cows receiving €3 a day each in subsides, making products such as bread, milk, sugar and chicken more expensive for European shoppers.

Meanwhile, African producers cannot export their products because the EU dumps unwanted goods in their markets at rock-bottom prices.

Sugar down, wine next

Lacking feasible arguments to support some heavily subsidised yet uncompetitive sectors of EU farming, EU agriculture ministers made a breakthrough deal in November last year.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) found EU member states guilty of dumping too much subsidised sugar in developing countries and undercutting local farmers.

The sentence led to a drastic EU agreement to cut sugar prices by nearly 40 percent and to let third world countries into the EU sugar market.

The European Commission also plans to cut the EU overproduction of wine taking out of use 400,000 of the 3.5 million hectares of EU winery land.

Getting rid of unsold, subsidised wine is costing the EU around €500 million per year, with the declining sector as a whole absorbing €1.3 billion of the EU's annual budget.

"We are spending too much money on distilling wine," agriculture commissioner Mariann Fisher-Boel said.

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