Fields of Gold: Lifting the Veil on Europe's Farm Subsidies

For the past 50 years European farmers have benefited from an exceptional set of protection and subsidies via the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). From 1995 to 2010, the cumulative budget expenditures for European farmers have been of the order of €600 billion.

But the current debt crisis Europe face could spur tranformation of the CAP. Last month, the 27 EU agricultural ministers started a debate on the structure and the level of subsidies farmers should get from the EU budget during 2014-2020.

Although the EU has gradually reduced subsidies to farmers in recent years, at an average of €55 billion a year or 42 per cent of the CAP's budget, it remains the world's largest agricultural support scheme.

Oilseed farmers in the EU, rivals of oil palm farmers in Malaysia and Indonesia, are big recipients of CAP subsidies. The CAP acts like a tariff wall around the EU by blocking agricultural imports out while keeping prices higher in the EU.

Among financial institutions and food giants, classified as "farmers" (because they are landowners) and receiving direct subsidy amounting to hundreds of million euros under the CAP are Rabobank, ING Bank, HSBC Bank, Nestle, Unilever, Danone and Friesland Foods.

The Queen of England also qualified for £473,500 in farm aid in 2008 for Sandringham Farms, her 20,000 acre retreat and home to four generations of British monarchs since 1862.

Below is a 6-minute documentary by Jack Thurston, co-founder of http://www.farmsubsidy.org/ , led by a grouping of European journalists, bent on identifying and tracking the amount of subsidies amount going to "farmers".

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