European Union: Agriculture

Vibrant rural areas and quality agricultural products

World food production needs to double by 2050 to cater for population growth and evolving food habits. It faces the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, soil and water quality, and the demands of the global marketplace.

EU farm policy has changed considerably in recent decades to help farmers face these challenges and respond to peoples’ changing attitudes and expectations. EU agricultural policy covers a wide range of areas, including food quality, traceability, trade and promotion of EU farm products. The EU financially supports its farmers and encourages sustainable and eco-friendly practices, while also investing in the development of rural areas.

EU institutions collaborate on food and farming policy-making, implementing, monitoring and evaluating it. National and local authorities implement the laws agreed at EU level. Through the EU budget, funds are made available to member states in accordance to rules set at EU level. The EU also monitors how laws are applied, how effective they are, and coordinates amendments.

Agriculture and food related industries and services provide over 44 million jobs in the EU, including regular work for 20 million people within the agricultural sector itself. Thanks to its varied climate, fertile soil, the technical skills of its farmers and the quality of its products, the EU is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of agricultural products.

Agriculture and rural development in EU: Rural development 2014-2020

The EU’s rural development policy helps the rural areas of the EU to meet the wide range of economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. Frequently called “the second pillar” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it complements the system of direct payments to farmers and measures to manage agricultural markets (the so-called “first pillar”).

There are 118 different rural development programmes (RDP) in the 28 Member States for this period, with 20 single national programmes and 8 Member States opting to have two or more (regional) programmes.

EU framework for rural development programmes

Member States and regions draw up their rural development programmes based on the needs of their territories and addressing at least four of the following six common EU priorities:

* Fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas

* Enhancing the viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture, and promoting innovative farm technologies and sustainable forest management

* Promoting food chain organisation, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture

* Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry

* Promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors

* Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas

Source: Official website of the European Union

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