Agriculture and its trading problems have hit the headlines. The last two economic summit meetings of the seven major Western powers have devoted a significant amount of time in discussion, and a significant amount of space in their communiqués, to agriculture. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was already producing milk surpluses in the early 1970s. Concern over the budgetary cost of agriculture has not been the only motive for urgent action. The impact on developing countries, public disquiet over the manner of surplus disposals, the risks to the multilateral trading system and the economic burden on the remainder of the economy, all these factors are playing a role in the current move for reform. If government objectives in the future can be better targeted than in the past, the inevitable decline in farming can be achieved while easing the transition for farmers.