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In an analysis first posted on his blog at, the author considers differences between the agricultural support programmes of the United States of America and those of the European Union, in terms both of levels of support and of institutional processes. The likely content of the forthcoming US Farm Bill is discussed, including the likelihood of a rebalancing of direct and indirect farm support away from ‘decoupled’ payments. One possible consequence is reinforcement of the arguments of those who feel that the CAP should move back towards more product-specific subsidy and away from environmental support – as many emerging countries are already doing. Bad economic ideas, such as recoupling or making payments countercyclical, will gain influence in the EU if it becomes the only ‘country’ sticking to the spirit of the WTO discipline


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