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UFU Respond to EU Health Check Proposals

by 5m Editor
26 November 2007, at 10:00am

UK - The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it will be encouraging the EU Commission to deliver stability and simplification for farmers, following today’s launch of the Commissions CAP Health Check Proposals.

Responding to the EU Commissions proposals, which will now be subject to a six month consultation, UFU President Kenneth Sharkey said: “We welcome the CAP Health Check, seeing it is an opportunity to adjust EU policy to further assist the farming industry to deliver the CAP’s public goods: producing high quality food in appropriate conditions; creating jobs; sustaining rural communities; and managing our environment”.

Mr Sharkey urged Europe’s Agriculture Commissioner to ensure the CAP was free from bureaucracy; “EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel has been pursuing a simplification agenda and we welcome that. ‘Simplify the rules’ was the clear message given to the Commissioner by our members when she was our guest in Northern Ireland this summer. The Commission have responded by proposing the abolition of set-aside and removing unnecessary cross compliance obligations. The Commission is also preparing for the ending of the milk quota system in 2015. We need a smooth transition process and serious consideration should be given to managing market volatility and developing the dairy sector when the milk quota regime goes”.

The UFU says it will now begin a consultation process with local farmers. Kenneth Sharkey said; “Other aspects of the Commissions proposals will need to be considered carefully. We will now consult widely with our members on proposals such as moving the Single Farm Payment towards a flatter rate system and scaling back payments to larger recipients of CAP funds”.

The UFU raised concerns about the Commissions suggestion that EU modulation should be increased from five per cent to 13 per cent between now and 2013 to help fund the Rural Development Programme.

Kenneth Sharkey said; “Modulation is not a popular mechanism with farmers, who see their direct payments reduced and have in the past found Rural Development funds harder to access. In Northern Ireland we have already had increased rates of modulation imposed on farmers, against the wishes of the industry. Local farmers are already at a disadvantage compared to their EU counterparts because of the decision by our Agriculture Minister to impose additional modulation on the local industry”.

5m Editor