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Member States Respond To CAP Reform

by 5m Editor
13 October 2011, at 8:55pm

Following yesterday's proposals for the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), TheCattleSite looks at the responses for member states.

England

Yesterdays's proposals have been described as a backwards step which failed to address the policy's worst faults, by Conservative agriculture spokesperson - Richard Ashworth.

He said: "This doesn't take the CAP forward or do anything to tackle the real issues - about how we address food security concerns and grow more food using fewer resources.

"It seems no thought has been given to making farmers successful instead of subsidising their failure."

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) and the Country Landowners Association (CLA) in England have described the CAP proposals as "disappointing and a missed opportunity".

“In the last major reform of the CAP in 2003 we started with proposals that were generally helpful but unfortunately our own government implemented them in a way which was unequal for English farmers and hugely over-complicated. We, farmers, landowners and government, are still living with the consequences of those mistakes."

Specifically the two member organisations have said that they want to ensure that there are equivalent greening measures throughout the European Union.

"The purpose of this reform must be to bring the whole of Europe up to the standard of the better-performing countries."

Scotland

Scottish Liberal Democrats MEP - George Lyon wrote the European Parliament's first report on CAP reform in 2010 and has been campaigning for a fairer, greener and more sustainable approach to agriculture.

"From a Scottish perspective there are plus points as he has taken action to stamp out the slipper brigade, helped young farmers and targeted more support at producers in LFA areas who really need it.

However he criticised the greening element of the CAP. "On the key test of whether this will incentivise and develop a more sustainable, more competitive, more carbon efficient agriculture the whole package falls dreadfully short. It is simply nonsense to require seven per cent of land to be set aside at a time of food and energy scarcity."

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:"In a world of rising populations, and a shortage of land, the Common Agricultural Policy's primary purpose must always be to support food production and the £500m or so of support it delivers to Scotland's farmers every year is vital to ensuring we remain a food producing nation with vibrant rural communities.

"Without direct support, our farmers and crofters will simply not be able to afford to produce our food in competition with other non-EU countries that do not have to meet our high standards, and at the same time deliver other public benefits society expects such as biodiversity and reduced carbon emissions."

Wales

The Welsh National Farmers Union has said that the proposals will hinder, not help, Welsh farmers.

"For Welsh farmers I am particularly concerned at the scale and speed at which we are expected to move from our current historic basis of delivery of the Single Payment Scheme to a new scheme based on areas," said President Ed Bailey.

“Prescriptive rules on grassland, cropping and the re-introduction of set aside, in all but name, will serve to hinder our competitiveness, reduce our ability to change and adapt to new markets and climatic conditions."

Northern Ireland

The CAP budget was an issue for the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture. However it welcomed the idea of sharing out the Pillar 1 budget among member states.

Minister Michelle O’Neill said that the proposals around the greening of Pillar 1 also concern me given their potential negative impact on the competitiveness of the agricultural industry and increase in the administrative burden. Moreover, I have significant doubts in terms of their ability to deliver tangible environment benefits.

President of Ulster Farmers Union, John Thompson said that the proposals hadn't gone far enough to address food security issues.

Ireland

The Irish government has said that whilst there are some positives in the proposals from an Irish perspective, there are concerns that funding for rural development may be cut.

The Irish Agricultural Minister said that he wants to see greater flexibility for member states to shape their own payment models.

“Commissioner Ciolos is creating a serious conflict between our ambitions to increase production and what he wants in CAP post-2013. The flat-rate and ‘greening’ proposals will cause huge disruption at farm level and take Irish agriculture in the wrong direction. They have the potential to undermine farmers’ business decisions and investment plans, increase overhead costs and impose a whole new level of bureaucracy and red-tape,” said Irish Farmers Association President, John Bryan.

He said “the CAP reforms would have a devastating effect on Irish agriculture because proposed changes to the Single Farm Payment could result in farmers losing up to 50 per cent of their income.”

France

The French Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Bruno Le Maire has said that the CAP budget must be significant enough to match the ambitions of the proposals. He said that the budget proposed by the Commission for 2014 - 2020 is an absolute minimum requirement.

Regarding the greening of the CAP the Minister said that France fully support the principle, but warned that measures must be kept simple and match the economic reality of farms.

Finally the Mr Le Maire said that as well anticipating and managing market crises, the CAP must strengthen the bargaining power of producers.

The French Farmers' Union (FNSEA) has said that it does not believe the CAP proposals will improve the competitiveness of French products.

The French have never supported the decoupling of payments. FNSEA says that the current proposals will give farmers little control over the market, and no capacity to respond to market crises.

Germany

Germany has said that it supports the basic proposals for the reform. The Minister of Agriculture, Ilse Aigner said that Germany was at the forefront of a green Europe.

However she expressed concerns about limited benefits for small and medium businesses.

Spain

Spanish Minister for Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Rosa Aguilar rejected the proposals laid out by Commissioner Ciolos. She said that the proposals were disappointing and do not respond to the challenges faced by European agriculture.

She expressed disappointment that the new proposals would see Spain losing out significantly on direct payment funds. Spain also does not want to lose the historical payment references, which would happen through decoupled payments.

"Spain wants to see more retention of payments coupled to production, and support for specific areas - the Commissions proposals can go a lot further," she said.

Minister Aguilar also rejected the 30 per cent greening of direct payments - pointing out that many farmers had already implemented environmental measures.

Italy

Whilst supporting many of the proposals, Italian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Xavier Roman said that the new greening measures imposed unnecessary burdens on producers, without resulting in any real benefits for the environment.

He said that more was need to improve communication between the supply chain, and increase transparency for consumers.

Baltic countries

Alfreds Rubik, a Latvian MEP said that the proposals would increase social inequality. He said Baltic countries in particular felt particularly dissatisfied, with many farmers demonstrating yesterday in Brussels.

He said the proposals would mean that some Baltic states - in particular Latvia - would receive only half of the EU average payment in 2020. "This is not equality and not competitive," he said.

October 2011

5m Editor