Poland – EU subsidies delay farm reforms

The recent ‘Special Report’ in The Economist outlined the benefits of Poland’s membership of the EU to the agricultural sector. Agriculture is the biggest beneficiary and ironically farmers were some of the most committed opponents of EU entry. They suggested that only 600,000 of the country’s 2m farms would survive entry. But their mood changed when Polish agriculture received 40 billion in 2007-13 and another 42.4 billion from 2014 – 2020. From the EU funds farmers’ incomes have tripled since entry, with half of the money coming from direct cash payments, regardless of need. But the agricultural subsidies are a mixed blessing as it encourages inefficiency in the sector as half the farms that receive assistance are just subsistence plots, and 92% of them are less than 20 hectares. But Polish agriculture accounts for only 3.4% of GDP but 12.4% of employment. However the rural population makes up about 39% of the total so therefore farmers are an important political constituency. The graph below shows the impact of the price support system.

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