Agricultural Policy of the European Union 

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Agricultural Policy of the European Union

The years immediately following the Second World War, Europe was marked with food shortages, a situation that needed immediate and lasting action. The European Union began as a group of only 6 countries in 1957. Agriculture was the biggest industry and had huge political and social influence. It was agreed that agriculture could not be treated like any other industry – the Common Agricultural Policy was born.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was brought in by the EU in 1962 with a number of aims. It aimed to:

ü increase agricultural production in member countries.

ü improve the standard of living experienced by farmers.

ü maintain prices and supplies of food at a reasonable cost to the consumers.

The EU has brought in many rules and regulations to try and help farmers in all of its member countries. CAP has delivered high levels of support to EU farmers and has had substantial implications for world markets for agricultural products. Over time the CAP has been adapted to meet changing community expectations, internal budgetary constraints and external pressures.

CAP used to spend 70% of the European Union’s total budget through the following ways:

Subsidies – This was money given to farmers per head of livestock to help towards the cost of rearing them.

Set–aside – This was money given to farmers when they did not grow food on an area of their farm.

Guaranteed prices – Farmers were guaranteed that if their crops did not get a certain price at market the EU would make up the differences.

Quotas – A set amount of produce that a farmer can produce. If the more is produced the farmer is fined. This was introduced after the overproduction of milk.

Grants – This is money given to farmers who do activities that are environmentally friendly such as planting hedges.

In 1992 the policy was reformed. The changes to the policy removed much of the subsidies and price support that the original policy had, as the EU realised that the intensive farming was harming the environment.

Reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have reduced the price guarantees for food production, but at the same time have increased the sums available for support of new enterprises. Many farmers, faced with a situation where they can no longer rely on a guaranteed market for their produce, will need to consider diversification (the process where farmers seek alternative income, other than from growing food crops or conventional livestock keeping).

Answer the questions.

1) Which problem in Europe needed immediate solution after the World War 2?

2) When did EU start?

3) When was CAP brought in?

4) What were CAP’s main goals?

5) What were the important instruments of CAP?

6) What reforms in CAP have taken place?

Match the items on the right to the items on the left.

1) Policy 2) Subsidy 3) Set-a-side 4) Quota 5) Grant 6) Diversification a) a payment from a government to encourage an individual activity on a farm, such as building stone walls b) the payment by the EU to farmers to not produce food on a certain percentage of their land area c) where a farmer finds non-food production activities (such as horse livery, paintballing) to supplement their income d) a payment to farmers from government to supplement the income received from farming activity e) a set of rules laid down by government f) a maximum amount set by the EU that a farmer is allowed to produce

Read the following text. Give the Ukrainian equivalents to the words in bold.

Farming as a System

Farming can be classified many ways according to what takes place on that farm. The list below contains some of the major types:

Organic farming is farming that takes place without the use of chemicals.

Intensive farming is one that has high inputs of capital and/or labour. The idea is to maximise the amount of produce gained from a unit area of land.

Extensive farming has low levels of input of labour or money and produces a low yield per unit area of land (e.g. Grain farming in the Prairies)

Commercial farming is when a farmer produces food for sale.

Subsistence farming is where most of the food produced is to be eaten by the farmers and little is left over for sale.

Arable farms produce crops.

Pastoral farms rear animals.

Any farm can be viewed as a system, with inputs, throughputs (or processes), outputs and feedback.

Inputs can be divided into two groups.

Physical inputs are naturally occurring things such as water, raw materials and the land.

Human or cultural inputs are things like money, labour, and skills.

Processes or Throughputs are the actions within the farm that allow the inputs to turn into outputs. Processes could include things such as milking, harvesting and shearing.

Outputs can be negative or positive, although they are usually the latter. Negative outputs include waste products and soil erosion. The positive outputs are the finished products, such as meat, milk and eggs, and the money gained from the sale of those products.

Feedback is what is put back into the system. The main two examples of this are money, from the sale of the outputs, and knowledge, gained from the whole manufacturing process. This knowledge could then be used to make the product better or improve the efficiency of the processes.

Fill in the blanks.

Arable, pastoral, mixed or organic

is environmentally friendly.
is the growing of crops.
is when farmers grow crops and rear animals.
is the keeping of animals.

Subsistence or commercial

farmers only produce enough food to survive.  
farmers sell their crops and animals in order to make a profit.

Intensive or extensive

low inputs, large areas of land, low outputs or yields per hectare.
high inputs of money, labour or technology to achieve high outputs or yields per hectare.

9. Complete the table using the items:

climate tradition accessibility to market
ploughing soil shearing
cost of land demand for products availability of labour
milking harvesting animal products
grazing crops relief


Inputs Processes Outputs
Physical Human Arable Pastoral
climate cost of land ploughing milking crops

Read the text about farming types in the UK.

Farming Types in Britain

Farming in Britain is shaped by the country’s membership in the European Union (EU) which the UK joined in 1973. All the 27 countries that make up the EU have to operate by the same set of rules for farming known as the Common Agricultural Policy.

The main types of farming that you would find in the UK are arable, dairying and hill farming. Many farms are actually mixing in an attempt to make more money. Most farming in Britain tends to be intensive although some of the hill farms of Wales and Scotland could be described as extensive. All of them are commercial. Organic farming represents around 4% of the farmed area and is based upon the concept of sustainability utilising the farm's own resources.

One more farm type is market gardening. This is the growing of vegetables and fruits, usually in huge greenhouses. Often the biggest requirement of market gardening is the transport routes needed to take the products to shops and supermarkets for sale. Often products have to be sold within 24 hours of being produced.


  Climate Soils Relief
Arable (e.g. East Anglia) Warm summers, cold frosty winters. Average temperatures of 18°C or more. Low rainfall, falling during the growing season mainly. Fertile boulder clays, which are easy to plough. Generally flat, so it easy for machinery to be used on it.
Dairying (e.g. Devon) Warm summers and mild winters mean that pasture is available all year long. High rainfall also encourages fast grass growth. Fertile enough for good pasture growth, but not for arable crops. Gently sloping, the green rolling hills of the UK. Cattle can not cope with land that is too steep.
Hill Farming (sheep) (e.g. Wales) Cool summers, cold winters and plenty of rainfall all contribute to these areas being unsuitable for arable farming but good for grass growth. Thin, poor soils that can be easily eroded and would not be good enough for other forms of farming. Hilly, steep land that would not be suitable for machinery or cattle. Sheep can cope with the slopes though.
MarketGardening (e.g. East Anglia) Temperature and water is usually controlled carefully by being in huge greenhouses. Soil is brought in to provide the best nutrients for the crops. Fertilisers are used extensively. The greenhouses themselves need flat land on which to be built.


In the UK there are approximately 300,000 active farms with an average size of around 57 hectares, much larger than the European average size of approximately 20 hectares. However the UK's high average size is swelled by the impact of Scotland where the average farm size is over 100 hectares. In England average size is around 50 hectares. For Wales and Northern Ireland, sizes are smaller at around 40 hectares.

Despite the relatively large number of farms in the UK, the majority of the agricultural area is farmed by a much smaller number of farmers. Some 41,000 farms (~14% of the total) are larger than 100 hectares and account for over 65% of the agricultural area.


11. a) Read the Bradley Farm Profile.

Situated in south west Northumberland in Hadrian's Wall Country, Bradley is a 200ha hill farm with sheep and suckler cow enterprises.

The Farm has recently joined with another neighbouring farm, East Bog Farm and the land size has subsequently grown from 200ha to 350ha.

The farm is owned by the National Trust. Julian and Lesley Acton have been tenants here since 1987. The farm is subject to many constraints both natural and man made. In common with other hill farms, its height (300m above sea level) and exposure to the wind leads to a long winter and relatively short growing season, while thin soils, rocky slopes and areas of waterlogging mean that most of the farm is only suitable to grass production and grassing animals. Lying within the Northumberland National Park, the land is in the Hadrian's Wall world heritage site.

b) Answer the questions:

1) Which type of farming happens on this farm?

2) Why is this farm limited to this type of farming?

3) Which factors prevent other types of farming?

4) Should farmers have to diversify to survive?

c) Complete the table below on the factors affecting Bradley Farm:


Human factors affecting the farm Physical factors affecting the farm



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