Farmers provide a stable food supply, produced in a sustainable way at affordable prices for more than 500 million Europeans. The European Union's farm policy ensures a decent standard of living for farmers, at the same time as setting requirements for animal health and welfare, environmental protection and food safety. Sustainable rural development completes the picture of the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP).
22 million farmers and agricultural workers are at heart of one of the biggest economic sectors in the European Union (EU), the agri-food sector. Around 44 million jobs in food processing, food retail and food services depend on agriculture. The EU is also a net exporter of food and drink, with an average annual 8% growth in the value of exports over the past 10 years, reaching €129 billion in 2015. More data on EU agri-food trade.
Helping farmers with income support and market measures, the common agricultural policy (CAP) also ensures sustainable rural development according to the specific needs in each EU country.
Agriculture is a key sector for sustainable economic development
The EU wants to ensure that agriculture remains sustainable and competitive. To help achieve this goal, EU money is used fo
- income support to farmers, based on market orientation (i.e. production that meets consumer demands), and linked with environmental sustainability, animal health and welfare, and food safety
- market measures to balance impacts on vulnerable common agricultural markets due to external factors such as weather conditions or a high price volatility
- rural development programmes responding to the specific needs for rural development of each of the 28 EU countries