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Farming In Europe

Farming in Scotland is shaped to a large degree by decisions taken in Europe. Since the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was established in 1962, the vast majority of support for farming has come from the European Union.

In the aftermath of World War II, the goal of the CAP was to achieve food self-sufficiency and stabilise turbulent agricultural markets. The goals of the CAP, agreed in the Treaty of Rome, were as follows:
• To increase agricultural productivity
• To ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community
• To secure food supply
• To stabilise markets
• To provide consumers with reliable supplies of food at reasonable prices.

Since its introduction, the CAP has undergone a series of reforms in an attempt to adapt to changing circumstances. Self-sufficiency for the original six EU member states was achieved in the first decade of the CAP, accompanied by low consumer prices. Economic and technological progresses benefited agriculture and productivity increased, which further stimulated output.

The latest reform of the CAP (mid-term review) began in summer 2002, driven to a large degree by impending EU enlargement and the need to cut spending. The main elements of the CAP Reform package were agreed by the Council of Ministers in June 2003.

This reform of the CAP has marked a radical change in agriculture support breaking the link between production and support. The Reform presents individual farmers with the opportunity and flexibility to base management decisions on customer requirements and the inherent capability of their farms, rather than the requirements of support schemes. The new rules in Scotland came into effect in January 2005.

Whilst the CAP has been the main driver of EU farm policy, an increasing number of environmental and trade directives emanate from Brussels, shaping the way Scottish farmers do business. That is why NFU Scotland has an office in Brussels.

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