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Home > Geography > Farming > Arable farming (Agribusiness)


Arable farming (Agribusiness)


The influence of government

A combine harvester

A combine harvester.

The influence of the UK Government and the EU with its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is often linked to questions on arable farming.

The aims of the CAP are to:

  • Ensure a fair standard of living for farmers
  • Guarantee regular food supplies at affordable prices

Each country in the EU pays in money to fund this policy (about 65% of the total money paid in). The money is then paid back to farmers through loans, grants, training and subsidies.

There are advantages and disadvantages of this policy:

Some of the Effects of the CAP

As a result of the reform of the CAP (1992) and the GATT trade deal (1994) subsidies are being cut. This is to make a freer and fairer trade in food possible throughout the world, not just within Europe.

Set-aside for example is a subsidy where a farmer can set aside an area of his farm (reduced from 15 - 10% now) and receive money from the EU to not produce food on it. (In 1995 Britain had 14.5% of its land out of food production in this way).

The government of the UK can also influence farming by protecting specific plants, animals, birds or areas of land that are under threat. Wetland areas for example may be made a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA). If a farmer has an SSSI or ESA on his land he will be restricted in how he can use that land but will also get compensation for helping to protect it.


"Government and the European Commmunity are the biggest influences on what farmers produce in Britain."

Do you agree with this statement?

Give detailed reasons for your answer.


If you agree with the statement :-

Farmers can get money from the UK government if they have an area of their farm classed as an SSSI or ESA. This land will be protected and what the farmer produces on that land (if anything) will be decided by the government.

Farmers can also get grants, loans and subsidies from the EU CAP. Set-aside land for example is where a farmer could leave 10% of his farm out of production and get money for doing this.

If you disagree with the statement :-

The UK government/EU is only one factor that influences what a farmer produces. Physical factors like relief, climate and soils and human factors like marketing, transport and mechanisation are often more important to the farmer. For example, if the farmer lives in a hilly, wet and cold area he will not be able to grow cereal crops or if the farmer lives far from a market he will probably not produce perishable goods.



A tractor

Class Clips

The impact of the EU CAP on farmers in France


Britain from Above logo

Class Clips

Using satellite technology in arable farming

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