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CAP simplification aims worry small farmers

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CAP simplification aims worry small farmers

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Brussels says Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform is in the right groove. For instance: standards for two dozen fruit and vegetable types are gone, so compliance costs have eased, inspections are fewer and less gets wasted.

Europe’s Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, claiming some success, said policy simplification will make European farming more competitive: “One of the ideas the people have had when discussing bureaucracy within the European Union and within the European Commission, is: Why should we decide the size of an apple? Why should we decide the curve of a cucumber? And this has been used as examples of how ridiculous this system in Brussels actually is.” The Commission is confident that it can cut red tape and save hundreds of millions of euros by 2012. But organisations standing up for sustainable agriculture are afraid that ploughing ahead will hurt food sovereignty. Gérard Choplin, Européenne Coordinator with Via Campesina, said: “We are extremely concerned that in the name of simplification there’sll be additional pressure on the accelerator to restructure agriculture. The real result is that small farmers in Europe won’t benefit from support payments any more.” Brussels says pruning the paperwork burden will bring huge savings, and that abolishing some schemes is further reducing costs. As the CAP eats up 40 percent of the EU’s budget, it says simplification is bound to bear fruit, although others are wondering: ‘How sweet?’