Czech farms, cooperatives could suffer major loss in subsidies under CAP reform

Photo: European Commission

New proposals put forward by the European Commission aimed at reforming the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) have met with opposition by Czech representatives, including the country’s Agrarian Chamber and the Agriculture Ministry. The EU is trying to slash millions in annual subsidies which would leave the largest agrarian businesses hardest hit. Under the proposals, large farms in the EU - including the Czech Republic – could lose up to 45 percent of previous funds.

Photo: European Commission
Under the new proposals by the European Commission, large farms and cooperatives within the EU stand to lose millions - part of planned reforms in the Common Agricultural Policy. The cuts would mean a loss for Czech farms, where large farming facilities make up 90 percent of the industry and observers say that could be devastating. Until now the largest facilities were able to receive subsidies of 300,000 euros annually and they would feel the cuts the most: a loss of 45 percent. Agrarian businesses which received 200,000, would now see a quarter less. Not surprisingly, the proposal has already provoked strong Czech reaction: on Tuesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Petr Gandalovic, told public broadcaster Czech TV the ministry was against the cuts as outlined:

“We don’t agree with this at all and this is something we have always protested against. Czech agriculture has a different tradition: most Czech farms are, on average, ten times larger than those in other EU countries.”

Jan Veleba,  photo: CTK
The president of the country’s Agrarian Chamber, Jan Veleba, agrees the cuts would unduly hurt large Czech farms:

“We can only see the proposed changes as an ‘attack’ on Czech agriculture, as the move would impact 1,300 firms. We reject that we should be punished for operating along a different model than the older EU countries.”

According to Jan Veleba, the move risks capping EU agriculture at the level of small farming, which he says would be unable to compete as effectively. And, the Czech Republic would not be alone among countries harder hit: others would include Great Britain, Germany, and Denmark. Jan Veleba again:

“We are going to do all we can to find support across the spectrum and of course will communicate with Euro MPs and others to try and stop the changes. We will prepare a strategy on the issue. Logically, if subsidies are to be reduced then they should be reduced along ‘proportional lines’. That’s better than a cut of 40 percent for large farms, which doesn’t seem fair to me.”.”

The Czech Republic is now planning on debating the CAP reforms in Brussels and is far from alone in its opposition to the cuts. On the other hand, the question is whether opponents can mount sufficient resistance: Brussels is bent on reducing spending on agriculture – currently swallowing a whopping 40 percent of the entire EU budget; a final decision on the reforms is expected by the end of next year.