Since this past April 30, European Union member states have made public the names of beneficiaries of the Common Agricultural Policy first-tier subsidies (direct incentives and market cooperative organizations). In France, the data can be obtained from the website of the Agence Unique de Paiement (AUP), where everyone can learn the amounts received by each recipient(individuals or firms). This action supplements the September 30, 2008 publication of the names of recipients of second-tier incentives (rural development).
If we welcome the European Union determination to generate more openness, we must be wary of the mix-ups that such raw information can breed in the public mind. As Jean-Michel Lemétayer, the FNSEA1 President, rightfully indicates, “openness is always a good thing in itself…. But publishing these gross amounts must go with clarifications”2. Moreover, these incentives must not be confused with revenues; in most cases (i.e. farmers who perceive less than €50,000 or 90 percent of them), they poorly compensate for declining prices of agricultural products and soaring prices of production inputs.
In addition, making public the amounts of incentives received by farmers must not hide the fact that 75 percent of them painstakingly earn an income equal to the French minimum wage. It would therefore be useful to publish, along with the list of CAP incentive recipients, the income taken home by each farmer. This would also give an idea of the usefulness of the allottedincentives.
1 Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles, France’s most important union.
2 As quoted by the May 1, 2009 issue of the daily Le Figaro, “La PAC n’est pas un jackpot pour tous les agriculteurs” ( “The CAP is not a jackpot for all farmers”)