Mexican President Vicente Fox announced a land reform aimed at clearing up problems with who owns title to rural property. Fox said only about half of Mexico's approximately 250 (M) million acres of rural properties had clear titles … a situation which has led to land disputes and difficulties for farmers to obtain production loans.
The disputes stem from an 80-year-old agrarian reform program, where the government gave landless people small, often communal farms. Frequently the same land was handed out twice, creating community conflicts that persist to this day.
Also trying to "advance" its agricultural policy is the European Union. The EU announced plans this week for a $35 (B) billion package to develop the struggling rural economies of ten countries expected to join the EU in 2004. The money would be used to support farmers and poor regions of, among others, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Malta.
The EU has more than rural poverty issues to deal with… at least in Britain. A British government-commissioned report says the present structure of agriculture was quote, "unsustainable."
The report recommends British farmers be encouraged to farm organically and food retailers should be given tax breaks for stocking locally produced foods. At the core of its findings is reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) … where the commission thinks 10% of the money allocated to farm subsidy payments should be diverted to help manage the countryside.