Agricultural Policy

Agricultural Policy in Europe

Ministry Of Agriculture and Fisheries in Great Britain

Created by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Act, 1919 in Great Britain. Formerly the Board of Agriculture.

Agricultural Community

Village and fields

Next to Russia, India is the moat important example of the present existence of village communities, although in the manner described by Sir H. Maine (Village Communities, Lect. IV.) their primitive simplicity and essential features were sacrificed for a time at least to alien English and Mohammedan law, the ZEMINDAR or official collector of customary taxes having been converted into a kind of manorial proprietor. In recent years, however, the tendency has been to protect these communities, and over large districts to regard them as the agricultural and fiscal unit. The general features— allowance being made for differences in climate— are not unlike those of the Russian mir and the early Teutonic settlements described below.

There is the division into strips, and the cultivation according to minute customary rules of the arable portion, and there is a certain portion of waste enjoyed as pasture by the different members. The village consists of households, each under a despotic head, the family life being characterised by extraordinary secrecy and isolation. In many communities the customs are declared and interpreted not by a council of elders but by the headman alone, his office being sometimes hereditary and sometimes nominally elective. The various trades or crafts necessary to a self-supporting village are also often hereditary, e.g. the blacksmith, the harness maker, etc.

In Java a system prevails closely analogous to that of India. The village is jointly responsible for the payment of taxes, and there is common use of the waste. The rice fields are periodically divided amongst the village families and the houses and gardens are private property. Irrigation is conducted according to communal rules and plans (cp. De Laveleye, Primitive Property, ch. iv.) The Allmends of Switzerland furnish another example of common cultivation. These are lands belonging to the communes, the right of use, however, being hereditary in certain families only, and most residents even of long standing and although having political rights, are excluded. The Allmend furnishes wood for fire and building, pasture for cattle on the alp, and a certain portion of arable land. In some cases there is still periodical division of the land, in others the land is let and the proceeds devoted to the expenses of the commune.

In most of the countries of Europe, where private property has become the rule there are also survivals which point to the wide prevalence of customary cultivation in common.[1]

Regulation of Agriculture

A recent study (Defra 2007) of the admin burdens in European agriculture found that:

  • A short list of regulations are consistently burdensome for some farmers across Europe: Single Payment Scheme, Livestock Identification & Movement, Welfare of Farmed Animals, Nitrates, Veterinary Medicines, Pesticides, Rural Development / Agri-environment schemes, and Pollution Prevention and Control.
  • Inspections, keeping records and reading guidance were areas identified as being particularly burdensome.
  • In general, it seems that ‘newer’ regulations are perceived to be more burdensome than those which have been on the statute books for some time. This is likely to be because of the burdens associated with familiarisation with new regulations, or with changes to regulations.
  • There is clearly a lot of variability in administrative burdens across Europe. Within a country, the impacts of regulation will vary according to farm size and type; between countries, levels of burden will be affected by implementation by that government, and by regional differences in agriculture sectors.
  • Overall, responses from old Member States indicate higher levels of administrative burden than responses from new Member States, especially with respect to inspections and reading guidance. This may be due to different implementation in new Member States, or to use of procedures which have had the benefit of seeing best practice in other Member States.

The last point may partly explain the frequent complaint that the regulation of agriculture in Scotland is more stringent (and therefore costly) than elsewhere. For example, the NFUS have argued that “There is a strong perception, and evidence, that European Directives are implemented more strictly in the UK than elsewhere in the EU and, in some cases, more strictly in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK” (Scottish Parliament 2006). While this is a common perception, the evidence that Scotland, or the UK, consistently “gold plates” regulation relative to other EU members is not conclusive (MacLeod and Bevan 2007). The results presented in Defra (2007) would seem to indicate that the administrative burden on UK agriculture is low compared to some other countries (see table 4.2). However, these results should be treated with some caution due to differences in the cost measurement methodologies. In addition the evidence is mixed and much of the debate rests on anecdote or business surveys of limited rigour. While it is possible to highlight individual regulations that have been implemented more stringently, the overall picture is less clear.

While the regulatory regime in the UK imposes costs on business, these need to be viewed in light of the significant benefits it provides to business by, for example: protecting the natural resource base; strengthening the competition regime; protecting consumers; encouraging people to take paid employment; and reducing the costs of accidents and ill health (Keter 2004, p43).



  1. Robert Harry Inglis, Sir, Dictionary of Political Economy, Vol. 1, 1915

See Also

Further Reading

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