Studies

Farm subsidy data harvest 2011

This May, farmsubsidy.org, a non-profit project that monitors farm subsidies in the EU, launched its newest data review of the subsidies granted under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
 
The so-called ‘Subsidy Data Harvest’ revealed that only € 15.4 billion (US$ 21.8 billion) of agricultural subsidies have so far been published by EU Member countries for the year 2010, despite expectations that around € 55 billion (US$ 77.8 billion) has actually been spent.
 
Farmsubsidy.org attributes this to large amounts of data having been kept secret. Of the 21 EU Member countries who had released results, only 3 were found to have been highly committed to budget transparency by publishing all their data: Denmark, Hungary and Sweden. By contrast, it is thought that Ireland failed to disclose 98% of its farm subsidies, with the Netherlands at the lower end of the range, having ommitted 25% of spending.

The lack of disclosure is due to a European Union Court of Justice ruling in November 2010 which decided that payment disclosures relating to ‘natural persons’ was a violation of personal privacy. The European Commission responded by ordering Member States to stop publishing data, although an intermin regulation this April ruled that they were still required to publish data on ‘legal persons’ – companies and partnerships. Farmsubsidy.org co-founder Jack Thurston was highly critical of this decision, calling it a “poor ruling” and observing that “secrecy is back with a vengeance”.
 
Nonetheless, the data harvest still yielded striking findings. In 2010, more than 1,330 payments were over € 1 million (US$ 1.4 million) and state-owned companies, ministries and regional governments dominated the top recipients. For example, the state-owned bank in Romania and state-owned water company in Portugal shared the first and the second place.
According to farmsubsidy.org, every year the CAP represents around 40% of total EU’s total budget.

The overview of the farm subsidy data is available at the farmsubsidy.org website.

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