Friday, 30 November 2012

Common Agricultural Policy Part 2 - Declining Farm Incomes

The next thing the CAP aims to eradicate is declining farm incomes. These are mainly caused by two things: low income elasticity of demand and/or increases in supply. As usual, we'll display this diagrammatically. Lets suppose we have a fairly inelastic demand curve and at the same time farm efficiency has improved, we can expect the market to now look as follows:

We can see that prices have fallen from P1 to P2 and quantity has risen from Q1 to Q2. However, we can also see that this has caused a fall in income of area a and an additional income of area b for the farmers. Area a is clearly larger than area b, meaning the farmers income as a whole has fallen. The way for farmers to gain is for demand to shift out by a larger amount, as even a small shift in demand would leave farm incomes still falling. 

What the farmers need is a more elastic demand curve for any increases in supply efficiency to actually increase farmers income. However, demand for grown crops is generally more inelastic because it's a necessity and therefore a change in price really doesn't affect demand all that much. This is why the government needs to intervene with the CAP because else there would be no incentive for farmers to make their production mechanisms more efficient as they'd effectively be losing money due to it.

Now we have covered both reasons as to why the CAP is necessary; fluctuating crop prices and declining farm incomes. We will next cover how the EU uses it's policies to correct these issues. Stay tuned!


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