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latest news & reports from the farmsubsidy.org network

FAQs

What's this all about?

The aim of farmsubsidy.org is to obtain detailed data relating to payments and recipients of farm subsidies in every EU member state and make this data available in a way that is useful to European citizens. Farmsubsidy.org is run by a network of European journalists, researchers and activists.

Where do you get this information from?

All the data presented on this website has either been published directly by EU country governments, or obtained from them by freedom of information requests.

I think there are mistakes in your data!

In several cases we have discovered discrepancies, inaccuracies and straightforward mistakes in the data published or released to us and wherever possible we have queried this with the relevant government agencies. Ultimately, the data available on this site is only as good as the data we have received from the governments. We do not change the data we have received from governments so if you think you have identified an error in the data you should notify the relevant government agency and, if possible, let us know too.

Are you for or against farm subsidies?

This project is the work of a diverse group of journalists and open data activists committed to increasing the transparency of the Common Agricultural Policy. We do not share any view of how farm subsidies should operate, other than in a transparent and open way. We hope that the release of data on the website will help European citizens to become better informed about how their money is being spent and contribute to a constructive debate about EU food and farming policy. While those involved in the project may hold their own opinions about the Common Agricultural Policy, farmsubsidy.org has no common position other than the need for greater transparency. If you want to debate the CAP, you'll find several of the members of the farmsubsidy.org network blogging at capreform.eu, the group blog on the future of European rural, farming and food policy.

Isn't this project making life even harder for European farmers?

No, we don't think so. Many farmers have told us that they are not in the least bit ashamed of receiving public money as they believe they provide important public services. Others have told us that they think the subsidies are unfair and this should be revealed. Data relating to farm subsidy payments has been available in the United States for several years, courtesy of our friends at the Environmental Working Group and more recently the Mexican government has released farm subsidy data too.

What about the privacy of people listed on the website?

Personal privacy is important but so too is fiscal transparency, anti-corruption and government accountability. We are careful to strike the correct balance. We do not believe that the information published on the site relates to any individual's personal situation, rather to his or her professional activities as a farmer or landowner.

Who is funding the project?

The project is run by the European Fund for Investigative Journalism, a project of the Pascal Decroos Fond, a foundation based in Belgium.

Currently the project is funded from a grant by the Open Society Foundation.

EU Transparency and DICAR (Danish International Center for Analytical Reporting), which founded farmsubsidy.org, have received funding for their farm subsidy transparency work as follows:

In addition, the various organisations and individuals involved in the project (e.g. NGOs, media and universities) have their own sources of funding.

Why does the amount of the data differ from one country to another?

Prior to 2008, the decision to release data was taken at the level of member states (or regions), therefore it is possible that data has be released in different formats. We regularly update our Transparency Index which ranks countries according to the level of disclosure. We hope that as more and more governments release data they will do so according to a common format so that it is possible to analyse the data in a meaningful way across the European Union.

Why is there data from some years and not others?

Prior to 2008, the decision to release data was taken at the level of member states (or regions) and many refused to release any data at all. Many countries only began publishing data in 2008. The furthest we go back is 2000, but for most countries nowhere near all years are covered.

Why do some recipients appear in the data multiple times?

Most recipients receive money every year, and some companies receive very large number of payments each year. We do our best to identify identical recipients within the data but this is very difficult without unique ID codes. Unlike the US and Mexican governments, the governments of the EU do not publish unique recipient ID codes that would allow us to track the same recipient over different years and different data sets. This means it is quite possible that the same recipient crops in the data more than once. This is one of the reasons we have provided the List tool, which allows users of the website to make lists of recipients and publish them. One application of the List tool is to group together all the payments going to a large company and all its various subsidiary companies.

How are the scores in the transparency index calculated?

The scores are weighted averages based on a number of criteria including: number of years for which data has been released; amount of detail in the data, e.g. geographical location, description of subsidy schemes, date, currency etc; format of disclosure (we give extra points for disclosure of raw data in a machine-readable format and we penalise disclosure in PDF files). Countries that release comprehensive and detailed data in a machine-readable format will score highly. A country that simply follows the EU law on disclosure will score around 35%. We welcome countries that have worked with us to improve their transparency scores, for example the government of Lithuania.

Is the website multilingual?

While the default language is English, our intention is to make the website accessible in as many languages as we can. If you would like to help out as a translator, please get in touch.

Why doesn't my search work? Why am I experiencing problems accessing the website?

We are still ironing out technical issues, particularly as we add new functionality to the site. So please be patient but do not hesitate to get in touch if something is not working or you have suggestions for how it could work better.

How can I get involved?

If you think you could help out with the project, please get in touch. We are particularly keen to make contact with people who want to help obtain farm subsidy data in the member states where it has not yet been released. We also welcome donations to help continue our work. And we'd love to have more users to test out new features we're developing.

Can I have the source data on your website?

Of course you can, as long as you agree to the terms of the Open Database License. Here's how.

How can I contact you?

We want to hear your comments about farmsubsidy.org. You can comment on stories or send email to team(at)farmsubsidy(dot)org.