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.