Food Security

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Common Agricultural Policy Objectives

The policy was created in 1962. CAP is an integrated system of measures that works by maintaining commodity price levels within the EU and by subsidising production


  • To increase productivity by promoting technical progress and ensuring optimum use of inputs.
  • To ensure a fair standard of living for the rural/agricultural community
  • To stabilise markets
  • To secure the availability of food supplies
  • To provide consumers with food at reasonable prices
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Common Agricultural Policy Mechanisms

There are a number of mechanisms:

  • Import levies are applied to specified goods imported into the EU. These are set at a level to raise the World market price up to the EU target price. The target price is chosen as the maximum desirable price for those goods within the EU.
  • Import quotas are used as a means of restricting the amount of food being imported into the EU. Some non-member countries have negotiated quotas allowing them to sell particular goods within the EU without tariffs. This notably applies to countries that had a traditional trade link with a member country.
  • An internal intervention price is set. If the internal market price falls below the intervention level then the EU will buy up goods to raise the price to the intervention level. The intervention price is set lower than the target price. The internal market price can only vary in the range between the intervention price and target price.
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Common Agricultural Policy Mechanisms

  • Direct subsidies are paid to farmers. This was originally intended to encourage farmers to choose to grow those crops attracting subsidies and maintain home-grown supplies. Subsidies were generally paid on the area of land growing a particular crop, rather than on the total amount of crop produced. Reforms implemented from 2005 are phasing out specific subsidies in favour of flat-rate payments based only on the area of land in cultivation, and for adopting environmentally beneficial farming methods. The change is intended to give farmers more freedom to choose for themselves those crops most in demand and reduce the economic incentive to overproduce.
  • Production quotas and 'set-aside' payments were introduced in an effort to prevent overproduction of some foods (for example, milk, grain, wine) that attracted subsidies well in excess of market prices. The need to store and dispose of excess produce was wasteful of resources and brought the CAP into disrepute. A secondary market evolved, especially in the sale of milk quotas, while some farmers made imaginative use of 'set-aside', for example, setting aside land that was difficult to farm.
  • Currently set-aside has been suspended, subject to further decision about its future, following rising prices for some commodities and increasing interest in growing biofuels.
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Environmental Stewardship

An agri-environmental scheme which offers payments to farmers and land managers for effective land management to protect and enhance the environment and wildlife. Other objectives are:

  • to maintain and enhance landscape quality and character,
  • protect natural resources
  • to promote public access to and understanding of, the countryside.
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Egypt, Kenya, and Ghana


  • Potatoes are grown in the desert, and watered through irrigation from an aquifier 350 metres below the ground.
  • They travel 11500 miles to be sold in the UK in the winter.


  • Green beans grown and stored in a charcoal chiller on Nanyuki Farm. They travel over 4000 miles to get the UK.


  • UK imports pineapples from 3200 miles away
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  • 1/3 of the world's peppers and cucumbers and 1/4 of its tomatoes are grown in the Netherlands, in 1/4 of the world's greenhouses.
  • Rock wool is used to store nutrients and water. This means that they don't need to use pesticides but they use a huge amount of energy.

Costa Rica:

  • Pineapples are grown in Costa Rica's hot, wet climate and exported to the UK.
  • Many of the workers involved are from Nicaragua. They face terrible working conditions, eg fingernails falling out from the pineapple spikes and damaged fertility from the chemicals.
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Green Revolution

  • 1940s-60s.
  • A programme where a farmer, Borlaug, worked with agro-scientists to offer a package of agricultural resources to farmers which would enable them to dramatically increase yields.
  • They were given High Yield Varieties (HYVs) of crops - predominantly rice, wheat, and maize.
  • Irrigation was also introduced, and pesticides and fertilisers. Advice was given on when/how to use the chemicals.
  • There was also assistance given for farms to become more mechanised.
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Green Revolution 2

  • The programme was introduced in India and the Punjab in 1965 (the rice crop.)
  • Young, educated, already rich farmers with large farms were able to make the most effective use of the technologies - their yields were 2-4x higher than poorer farmers
  • The HYV crops required a great deal of maintenance as weeds grew around them easily
  • Urban dwellers were able to buy rice much more cheaply than before, slightly reducing urban malnutrition
  • Small farmers were unable to compete, as they couldn't afford the programme, and had to sell their land
  • Many lost land due to enclosure
  • Landless labourers had jobs replaced by the mechanisation of the agricultural process
  • Overall, malnutrition increased as people were forced to buy less nutritious food, rather than growing their own
  • Environmental costs included deforestation, soil erosion, waterlogging and salination, loss of predators and a loss of biodiversity

The programme was also implemented in parts of Africa, where it was unsuccessful due partially to the failure of the HYV crops in the arid conditions

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  • The 'GM capital of the world.'
  • Has GM soya plants on over half of its arable land. The plants are resistant to weedkiller.
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