` Olive Oil Industry Groups Reject Proposals for CAP Reform

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Olive Oil Industry Groups Reject Proposals for CAP Reform

Oct. 24, 2011
By Julie Butler

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Euro­pean Com­mis­sion pro­pos­als for a greener, leaner farm sub­sidy sys­tem have been roundly rejected by Spain’s olive oil sec­tor.

The EC wants to cut Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy (CAP) spend­ing in real terms by 9 per­cent to €435 bil­lion ($603b) for 2014 – 2020. By the end of the decade, CAP would account for 37.7 per­cent of the EU bud­get.

Key reforms sought are a €300,000 limit on the sub­si­dies that a large farm can receive, and uni­ver­sal allo­ca­tion of sub­si­dies via a flat rate per hectare rather than accord­ing to pro­duc­tion his­tory — a change which would see France and Spain lose the most.



Andalusia’s Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Fish­ing, Clara Aguil­era speaks with Enrique Del­gado, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of Infao­liva (photo: Infao­liva)

And, for the first time, 30 per­cent of pay­ments to farm­ers would be linked to green tar­gets – such as ensur­ing tillage farm­ers grow at least three crops to ensure diver­sity, and leave at least 7 per­cent of their land fal­low as a haven for plants and ani­mals.

While France, with 17 per­cent of Europe’s farm­land, cur­rently gets almost a quar­ter of total CAP spend­ing, Jaén is the province that receives the most under CAP, with about €465 mil­lion a year, accord­ing to the Diario Jaén,

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It receives more money because its farm­ers work in the olive oil sec­tor, which has his­tor­i­cally entrenched rights, and because it is in Andalu­sia, which is con­sid­ered one of the key regions for Europe’s food sup­ply and has there­fore received a higher level of sup­port than other areas.“

Agri­cul­tural lobby group ASAJA said that, over­all, the CAP changes would halve sub­si­dies received by Jaén’s olive oil sec­tor and leave it comatose.”

The Cata­lan agri­cul­tural Union, Unió de Page­sos, said while it agreed there were inequities in the cur­rent sys­tem, a one-tier flat rate sys­tem would be unfair. Allowance should be made for dif­fer­ences in cul­ti­va­tion, such as whether irri­gated or rain-fed, and inten­sive or tra­di­tional.

Europe’s agri­cul­ture com­mis­sioner, Dacian Cioloş, said the pro­pos­als were intended to pro­foundly reform the pol­icy with­out the need to slash spend­ing, In order to meet the chal­lenges of food secu­rity, sus­tain­able use of nat­ural resources, and growth.”

But his envi­ron­men­tal mea­sures were the most uni­ver­sally rejected by EU mem­ber states, with claims they were exces­sive and too much red tape, while envi­ron­men­tal groups lamented that they did not go far enough. Spain’s Min­is­ter for the Envi­ron­ment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Rosa Aguilar, said she feared they would reduce mem­bers’ inter­na­tional com­pet­i­tive­ness.

As what could now be at least a year of nego­ti­a­tions begins, Andalusia’s Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture and Fish­ing, Clara Aguil­era, announced last week she hoped to form a lobby group of the main EU olive oil pro­duc­ers — France, Italy, Por­tu­gal, Greece and Spain — to jointly defend the sector’s inter­ests.

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