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Fens to Farms and Back Again
Emily Gertz, 3 Sep 04

In the early 1970s, marshlands in Otmoor, north of Oxford, England were drained for cropland, with the help of European Economic Community grants. The thinking at the time was to maximize agricultural production, but the impact on British native species was disastrous.

Now, the EEC's successor European Union is again giving grants to Otmoor, but this time to restore the fens - part of a complex reorientation of EU farming policy that will equalize subsidies to farms irregardless of how much food they bring to market.

The idea behind the change is to remove the perverse incentives which have encouraged farmers to rear more livestock and grow more crops than the market demands, leading both to environmental damage and to surplus food which is then "dumped" on international markets - threatening the livelihoods of poor farmers in developing countries.

It is also supposed to simplify the system. But simplicity and EU agriculture are rarely to be found in the same sentence.

Read more on the BBC.

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