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Words in the News
 
Friday 27 June 2003
 
European Union farm policy agreement
 
Farm machinery European Union agriculture ministers have agreed reforms to the controversial system of paying subsidies to farmers. This report from Tim Hirsch.
 
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These reforms will not end the criticism of the EU's farm policy, but the remarkable thing is that they're happening at all. As recently as last week, the French president, Jacques Chirac, was doing his best to sabotage any significant change to the system of subsidies, which benefits France more than any other country. Only when he failed to get enough allies to block the reform did a deal become possible. The price of French support has been to water down the original plans, allowing individual countries to keep some of the payments linked to how much food is produced by farmers. But the heart of the proposal remains intact. The majority of the subsidies, which encourage farmers to overproduce food, will be abolished. In their place will be a single farm payment which won't be linked to what farmers grow and which can be withheld if they don't look after the land properly. Aid charities say the changes don't do nearly enough to prevent subsidies from damaging the livelihoods of poor farmers in the developing world by under-cutting their produce. But some British environmental groups are pleased that they will allow the UK government to press ahead with plans to divert money into schemes which help bring wildlife back to the countryside.
 
 
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system of subsidies
 
way of organising money paid by the European Union to help farmers
 
block the reform
 
if you block something that is being arranged you stop it from being done
 
water down the original plans
 
if you water down a plan you make it less forceful
 
the heart of the proposal remains intact
 
the most important part of the plan has not been changed
 
to overproduce food
 
to produce more food than is needed
 
single farm payment
 
one payment, rather than many
 
damaging the livelihoods
 
harming the way they earn money
 
under-cutting
 
to undercut someone is to sell something more cheaply than they do
 
press ahead with plans
 
continue with the plans in a determined way even if it is difficult
 
divert money
 
to cause money to be used for something else
 
 
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