No tomatoes, and you get a Maserati

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

SEN Teaching Assistant

£70 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Group: SEN Teaching Assistants needed in...

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Accounts Assistant - Sales Ledger, Sage Line 50 - St Albans

£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...

EBD Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Dance yourself happy: strutting their stuff is, apparently, better for people than visiting the gym  

How should we measure the 'worth' of our nation?

Dan Holden
An Ottawa police officer runs with his weapon drawn outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa  

Ottawa shooting: Canada’s innocence is not lost — unless we want it to be

Jake Heller
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?