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Richard Wright: European farmers enjoy pre-Christmas bonus

Farmers will receive a share of the funds deducted from direct payments which are used to fund the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) crisis reserve.

EU farmers have received a nice pre-Christmas present from the European Commission.

The Commission is returning to farmers a share of the funds deducted from direct payments which are used to fund the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) crisis reserve and to prevent the CAP going over budget.

Prices

Reasonable prices for much of the year meant much of this funding was not spent. Of the £740 million deducted from payments, £583 million will be returned to farmers via member state payment mechanisms.

The crisis reserve remains part of the reformed CAP, but its use may be more flexible and market focused in the future.

Meanwhile, the boom times are continuing for agrifood trade in the EU, with exports rising and the positive balance of trade gap growing.

The latest figures for the first eight months of 2021 also show that EU exports to the UK recovered to their pre-Brexit levels, while those from the UK into the EU remain in the doldrums.

Trade for January to August was £180 billion, a five per cent increase on 2020. Exports rose by seven per cent and imports by 2.3 per cent. As a result the balance of trade was £37 billion in the EU’s favour and up by 17% on the same period in 2020.

The EU’s export performance was led by wines and spirits.

Growth markets for the EU included the United States and China. Sales to the UK were just 0.4 per cent down on pre-Brexit figures, but the drop in imports from the UK was the biggest recorded for any country, falling by £2 billion or 27%.

This strong EU export performance was led by wines and spirits, with sales to the US in particular recovering after previous trade tensions.

Land values

The latest figures from the EU’s statistical service, Eurostat shows the Netherlands is the dearest country in the EU to buy a hectare of arable land and Croatia the cheapest.

The average price in the Netherlands was £58,000 while a hectare of similar land in Croatia cost less than £3000. The Dutch figure was only beaten by the Spanish Canary Islands, where land was sold for over £100,000 a hectare.

After the Netherlands other high price countries included Italy and Ireland at over £20,000 and then Denmark at around £15000.

The UK is excluded from all Eurostat figures.

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