The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) aims to maintain stable markets for agricultural products and to ensure a fair income level for farmers and reasonable consumer prices. Efforts are made to develop agricultural production in the Community in a balanced way, with due account for the environment and animal welfare as well as promote the viability of rural areas. The EU budget expenditure under the heading "Natural resources", which comprises agriculture, rural development, fisheries and the EU environmental programmes, totalled about 59.5 million euros in 2010. This is about 42% of the total Community budget expenditure but less than 0.5% of the total GDP of the European Union.
Common market organisations are applied to reach the objectives of the CAP and, where necessary, to steer the production and trade in all Member States of the European Union. The markets can be steered by regulating imports and exports, intervention actions and support schemes. The measures applied vary by product. Most of the support payments have been decoupled from the production, which allows the farmers to adjust their production to the market needs. The prices of agricultural products have bee lowered close to the world market prices, while farmers' incomes are kept at a reasonable level by means of decoupled income support. In order to be eligible the farmers must comply with certain conditions relating to e.g. food safety, animal welfare and the environment. The aim of all this is to ensure the supply of safe staple agricultural products to the consumers.The CAP has a vital role in supporting farming in Finland. In our country the preconditions for farming are quite difficult in many respects, especially due to the short growing season and cold winter temperatures. In the context of the CAP the whole country is currently classified as less-favoured area. This means that, in addition to the support available under the first pillar of the CAP (single farm payment and market support), Finnish farmers are eligible for LFA-support. The majority of Finnish farmers also receive agri-environmental support. These support schemes make an important contribution to maintaining a viable agriculture sector in Finland, even if the production costs are much higher than elsewhere within the