World farm support languishes at £150bn

COUNTRIES AROUND the world spent £150bn on agriculture last year, according to estimates from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development.

Support as a proportion of farm revenue remained level at 30%, although there were wide differences between members, the OECD reports.

Australia and New Zealand footed the list with subsidy spending equal to less than 5% of farm receipts. The US posted an average of 25% while the EU paid the equivalent of 34% of farm income.

Support to farmers in Japan and Korea averaged about 60% and as much as 70% in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

EU enlargement, which welcomed 10 new countries to the bloc last May, was found to have diluted support levels by 1%, though subsidies are on the rise in the new member states.

The OECD also hailed the move towards decoupled support and the erosion of price props among members.

However, lower world cereal prices had seen the Government payout to US grain farmers increase.

The report also noted that agri-environmental schemes had been set up in Australia, Mexico and North America, while Japan had introduced cross-compliance.