2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the common agricultural policy (CAP), a cornerstone of European integration that has provided European citizens with five decades of secure food supply and a living countryside. The CAP was created so that people could enjoy good food at affordable prices and farmers earn a fair living. Fifty years on, these aims are still valid. Down the years, the EU has adapted the CAP to the changing needs of society. This is the story of a dynamic partnership between farmers and Europe. This partnership has moved with the times. The CAP has witnessed three main phases:... it brought Europe from food shortage to plenty ; it changed and adapted to meet new challenges linked to sustainability and the environment ; and it expanded the role of farmers in rural development beyond just food production. Three generations of farmers have worked the land and tended their animals since the CAP was set up. This is their story too. Besides feeding a continent, farmers now act on our behalf to conserve the countryside and our natural resources. They also play a central role in revitalising rural areas and the rural economy. Today, the policy is again being reformed; the aim is to strengthen the competitiveness and the sustainability of agriculture and rural areas across the EU. The new policy responds to the economic, environmental and territorial challenges Europe faces today.