The importance of agriculture
Agriculture is at the heart of our lives. Much of what we consume and use every day comes from a farm, from our milk, bread, meat, vegetables and wine, to our clothing and cut flowers.
Farmers play a unique role. They produce high quality, safe food. But we also expect them to look after the natural landscape, help tackle climate change and preserve agricultural diversity.
The role of the CAP
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was created to help Europe’s farmers deliver these public benefits.
Since its launch in 1962, the CAP has evolved to address global challenges that affect us all. In June 2013, EU institutions agreed on a new direction for the CAP with the aim of helping farmers better meet these challenges. The reform has been shaped by a full public debate with citizens and stakeholders.
Ensuring our food security
The EU’s 500 million consumers all depend upon a reliable supply of healthy, nutritious food at an affordable price. But farming is not just about quantity. The new CAP promotes diversity and quality, respecting the wide variety of Europe’s agricultural traditions.
It does this by better targeting public support, reducing the gap in payments to different EU countries and regions, and by supporting all different types of farm and farming practices, whether big or small, family-run, conventional or organic.
Since there is little room to expand Europe’s production area, productivity growth has to come through research and new technology. The new CAP puts extra funding into these, enabling farmers to modernise and become more efficient.
Protecting our environment
Careful use of natural resources is essential for food production and our quality of life, now and in the future.
The new CAP supports farmers to ensure the protection of the environment and biodiversity.
30 % of direct payments – the income support farmers receive through the CAP – are linked to sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices such as crop diversification, the maintenance of permanent grassland and the protection of ecological areas on farms.
There is also specific aid for organic farming.
Preserving the vitality of our countryside
The CAP is also about rural communities and the people who live and work in them.
The farming and the agri-foods industries today represent 46 million jobs and 6% of European GDP. They play a vital role in our economy and society. However, too few young people see farming as an attractive profession. Today, only 6% of farmers are under 35.
The new CAP focuses on helping farmers across the EU keep the countryside alive. It stimulates employment, entrepreneurship and local food supply, supporting rural business with funding. It helps farmers to modernise their farms and to invest beyond food production.
Specific schemes are in place to support farming in difficult conditions, such as mountainous areas, and young farmers in their first five years in the sector.
The CAP is essential to protect the future of farming and rural life in Europe.
Your questions on the new CAP are answered here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-631_en.htm
You can find out more about agriculture in your country here: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/statistics/factsheets/index_en.htm
 The Common Agricultural Policy after 2013 – Public Debate, Executive summary of contributions: