No tomatoes, and you get a Maserati

Share
Related Topics
THE Common Agricultural Policy, an observer's guide to the process of European self-sufficiency in food.

THROUGH a combination of target price, intervention and threshold pricing, farm revenues are pushed towards levels determined by the EC Council of Ministers.

Thus, farmers grow a tomato and the Council of Ministers pays them for two tomatoes. Paradoxically, this does not encourage the farmers to halve production in times of plenty, it encourages them to double it. This is clearly unsatisfactory to the Council of Ministers as it introduces a dangerous long-term insecurity into the supply and demand model and this will ultimately threaten the regular supply of tomatoes. Farmers are therefore lobbying the legislature to ease the long-term threat to the supply situation by paying them for three tomatoes for every tomato they grow, in which case they could immediately treble production.

The set-aside policy is better still, as it pays farmers for every tomato they do not grow. The resulting tomato famine drives the price of tomatoes through the roof and allows farmers to buy land that is wholly unsuitable for growing tomatoes, thus helping resolve the problem of unpopular tomato surpluses.

Tomato surpluses drive the world price of tomatoes down, thereby impoverishing tomato- based economies in Africa. At the same time, subsidies that create the surpluses keep the price of domestic tomatoes up, impoverishing consumers.

Subsidy money has become essential to the market mechanism and is invested by the agricultural sector in many ways - none more profitable than the labour-intensive process of rooting out hedges. The soil structure quickly becomes unstable and topsoil blows away. This renders the farmer eligible for a disaster grant. Such grants have created a lively market in disaster, and the most profitable farms in Europe now have no topsoil at all. This accords with the long-term strategy of the Council of Ministers, as farms without topsoil have optimum conditions for not growing tomatoes.

Beyond market gardening there is the question of ruminant meat. Farmers call this sheep. In northern Europe even gardeners call this sheep, as their 10-acre plots yield a respectable living from these animals, owing to the Council of Ministers' decision to pay them for ten sheep for every one sheep they fatten. During long winters the beasts double as capital investment and bed warmers. Being so valuable, the sheep commonly share the facilities of the house with the farmer's family, and, in exceptional circumstances, may be privately educated with the children. They rarely pass their kill-by date, no matter what their proficiency in irregular verbs.

Ruminant meat is an essential part of the agricultural economy; as well as providing every peasant farmer with his birthright of a Maserati, sheep are also a vital element in the long- term strategy of the sector. If governments, for instance, suggest reducing the sheep subsidy, sheep farmers drive their flocks into the centre of town and slaughter them on the steps of the parliament building.

The protest is telegenic and has always been successful to date. Farmers frequently stage this protest in solidarity with tomato farmers as they can also pick up a large disaster grant for sudden stock depletion.

Other grants are made on the basis of atmospheric conditions: drought, deluge and all weather in between. If it is sunny with rainy periods, or rainy with sunny periods, or cloudy and windy but not very wet, or very wet with low cloud and high winds, farmers can do only one thing: apply to the Council of Ministers for compensation.

In France, where Dadaists have taken over the French policy machine, farmers are paid for one tomato for every snail they don't grow, which is why every tomato farmer has a Maserati in his harvester shed instead of a tomato harvester.

As well as not growing tomatoes, the surreal agriculturalists plant light bulbs and micturate over them in many colours. Although critics are sceptical about admitting tomato farmers into the genre of performance art, the Council of Ministers is excited by this daring mix of culture and agriculture.

You might think Dadaism would look strange as an element of the Common Agricultural Policy, but you couldn't be further from the mark.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
 

The two most important parts of Obama’s legacy could be on the brink of collapse, and this time there's no back-up plan

David Usborne
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn