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

C#.NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL,MVVM, SOA...

Service Delivery Manager - Derivatives, Support,

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Delivery Manager - (Derivatives, Support...

Technical Account Manager - Java, FIX Protocol, FIX 5.0, C++

£30000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Account Manager - Java,...

WPF .NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: WPF Analyst Programmer NET, WPF, C#, M...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: heatwave update; duck tape and market socialism

John Rentoul
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform