Green Week, Green CAP? Details of the French Plan to Move From an Unfair Distribution of Subsidies

The international agricultural fair held last week in Paris was the theatre for the last negotiations on the implementation of the Health Check in France. According to sheep breeders, Michel Barnier has become the French Robin Hood. But according to grain producers, the French farm minister is an irresponsible thief. France is moving from the unfair distribution of EU subsidies towards a new, perhaps fairer, deal. But this new deal does not amount to a revolution before the decisive 2013 stage.

Without a doubt, the French plan (detailed below) is a milestone towards solving the historic unfair distribution of subsidies among livestock breeders and crop producers. None of the previous farm ministers from the socialist party over the last decade managed to achieve what Barnier succeeded in doing this week.

Nevertheless, it's not a green deal yet. The likelihood of reaching a more legitimate CAP for the post 2013 period would have been better prepared for, but for two very disappointing elements:

  • Historic subsidies remain in place. Although he announced last week a gradual phasing out of historic subsidies, Nicolas Sarkozy finally folded in front of the farmers’ lobby, who did not want to hear about it. The Ministry of Agriculture believes that by turning to other tools made available by the Health Check that 50% of farmers will receive between 200 and 350 euros per hectare in 2013. This is quite high by European standards.

  • Moving towards sustainable and organic farming is not enough. Only 129 M€ out of a total of 1.4 B€ - less than 10% - will be redirected to more sustainable production systems: proteins, organic farming and new challenges (climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity , water ...). And what about organic farming? The amount provided does not match the commitment of the Grenelle de l'environnement to reach 6% of the total farmed area by 2012.

The deal reached between Barnier, livestock breeders and grains organisations is as follows. A total of 1,4 billion euros, (18% of the total amount of direct subsidies) will move to four main objectives:

  • strengthening the economy and employment in the rural areas (265 M€),
  • establishing a new support for productive grasslands and fodder (980 M€),
  • supporting sustainable development (129 M€),
  • establishing a risk management scheme (140 M€).

The levies will be as follows:

  • modulation from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2: 202 M€,
  • article 68 (shifting money within Pillar 1): 385 M€ (5%),
  • article 63 (partial decoupling of crops): 640 M€ (14%, down from 25% coupled),
  • article 60 (partial decoupling of animal subsidies): 320 M€ (25% of the suckler cow premium, down from 100%).

In order to reinforce vulnerable sectors, 265 M€ per year is set for:

  • sheep and goats: 135 M€,
  • milk in mountain areas: 45 M€,
  • durum wheat in traditional areas: 8 M€,
  • suckling calves: 4,6 M€,
  • potatoes and vegetables : 30 M€,
  • less favoured areas support : 42 M€.

Grassland and fodder support:

  • ‘productive grasslands’ premium: 700 M€ (1st pillar),
  • extensive grasslands premium within agri-environmental schemes: 250 M€ (Pillar 2),
  • fodder premium (maize): 30 M€.

Sustainable development:

  • proteaginous plants: 40 M€,
  • organic farming: 57 M€,
  • new challenges: 32 M€.

Risk management tools:

  • crop insurance: 100 M€,
  • animal disease fund: 40 M€.

1 comment posted

  • Irina Herzon BirdLife Finland March 4th, 2009

    It is hardly a “green” deal indeed! One has just to compare Productive grasslands’ premium of 700 M€ (=highly polluting green deserts) with a total for Sustainable development of 122 M€.

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02 Mar 2009


Samuel Féret


Samuel Féret is a rural sociologist and coordinator of the CAP 2013 group,which brings together French NGOs and agricultural organisations to debate the future of the CAP.