One of the objectives of agricultural policy worldwide concerns the support of farm income. Common Agricultural Policy direct payments (DPs) are the main instruments to support farm income in the European Union. This article addresses their role in the concentration of farm income. This is done by calculating the Gini coefficient and its disaggregation in a large sample of Italian farms in the period between 2006 and 2007. Although this approach has been used to develop ex-post analysis in previous studies, this article is innovative given that it is used here in an ex ante analysis aimed at evaluating the likely impact of a recent reform proposal. This latter requests changing the current model to a regional model of DPs application to make payment rates (i.e., payment per hectare) homogeneous among farms in the same region.
The analysis shows that DPs and farm incomes are both very concentrated but that DPs allow for an income concentration reduction in Italian farms. The shift to a regional implementation reduces DPs concentration and, to a limited extent, farm income concentration. Of the considered regionalization scenarios, those that redistribute DPs among regions are the most effective in reducing concentration. The extension of the Gini considered approach to an ex ante setting seems effective because it provides insights that could feed the policy debate regarding the forthcoming reform.