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Agriculture - Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

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What is the CAP?


Common Agricultural Policy The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was introduced after the Second World War. Europe wanted to be self sufficient in its provision of food. The CAP guaranteed farmers a price for their produce. This protected farmers from cheaper imports from outside of Europe.

The CAP led to a huge surplus of food in Europe. Food mountains and lakes were created. In order to reduce these the EU introduced milk quotas and set-aside.

As part of the Milk Quotas farmers are told how much milk they can produce. If farmers produce more than their quota they are fined.

As part of the set-aside scheme farmers have to leave 10-15% of their land uncultivated they are awarded a grant from the EU.

What has been the the impact of the CAP on the environment?

The CAP has had a significant impact on the environment

  • Hedgerows have been removed to increase field sizes to accommodate larger machinery and increase yields. This has led to increased soil erosion and a reduction in wildlife habitats.
  • The increased use of fertilisers and pesticides has caused groundwater supplies to become contaminated. The increase in levels of nitrates in streams and rivers has caused the growth of algae and bacteria. This has reduced oxygen levels in rivers killing fish and insects.


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