The farming model for the European Union is set up differently than America's model, it is mainly composed of small-scale structures that are labor intensive.
One of the major differences between US and EU farming practices is the size of the average agricultural operation. In the EU the average size farm is 46.2 acres, while in the US the average farm size is 436 acres. With the EU’s substantially smaller farm size, and with it containing only 1/3 of the arable land compared to that of the US, it is of no surprise that the EU contains more than three times the amount of farms than the US.
The role of small farms is intricately woven into both the economic and social fabric of the EU. Most of the small farms in the EU are semi-subsistence farming, which is a farm that aims to both produce food to feed the family running the farm and provide an income for the family. Common Agricultural Policy, or CAP, is a policy in the EU which provides subsidies to families running “small farms”, as defined by the European Commission. This support of small farms is not seen in the US, which is controlled by corporate agriculture and is governed by policies which tend to promote corporate farming. The agricultural policy in the US concentrates on safety nets and economic insurance, while EU policy focuses on income fluctuations and fixed pre-determined payments.
In addition to the differences in farming structure and agricultural policy, the EU has taken a stringent and aggressive stance against genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The European Food Safety Authority judges all GMOs on a case-by-case basis, requiring the GMOs to obtain authorization through a meticulous process which requires each GMO proposal to go before a committee and be authorized or denied within three months. If authorized, the labeling of the end product reflects the presence of GMOs within the product in order to provide consumers with the knowledge, to further, make an informed decision as to whether or not consume the product. In contrast to the strict regulation of GMOs in the EU, within the US, regulation is comparably favorable to the development of GMOs. The production of GMOs is an important factor in the US economy as the Biotechnology industry contributes significantly to the US economy due to the US being the leading producer of GMO crops. This GMO regime within the US has led to the rise of agricultural behemoths like Monsanto, which control the seed industry with the US. The one year life span of seeds provided by Monsanto require farmers to purchase new seeds annually, often under contract, which is expensive and requires farmers to “go big” in order to survive. The corporate agricultural industry within the US minimizes the profitability for small farms.