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Union Leaders Concerned at Possible Payment Cuts

26 April 2012, at 1:48pm

SCOTLAND, UK - Farming union leaders in the UK have reacted with serious concern to reports that Government negotiators in Brussels are trying to give Member States the power to cut CAP direct payments by up to 20 per cent though a system which would replace voluntary modulation.

These cuts would be on top of the European Commission’s proposals for 30 per cent to be ring fenced for "greening" and on top of the 10 per cent "compulsory modulation" which the Commission proposes should permanently shift into the Pillar two envelope. It is understood that some Member States, including Spain, Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria, are seeking to return monies back to the direct payments in a step known as "reverse modulation".

In a joint statement, Nigel Miller (NFU Scotland), Peter Kendall (NFU England and Wales), Ed Bailey (NFU Cymru) and John Thompson (Ulster Farmers’ Union) said: "UK farmers will be very concerned to hear that UK Ministers are seeking to engineer ways to cut direct payments whilst other Governments are looking for ways to increase them to their farmers through reverse modulation.

"We know that money is going to be tight in this next CAP and we recognise that it is inappropriate to argue for more money to be spent on direct payments at this time. However, the fundamental problem to be addressed here is not the level of support payments to farmers, but the inadequate pillar 2 allocation that the UK receives.

"Government ministers in Westminster have repeatedly said that they want "fairness" in the next CAP; fairness for taxpayers, fairness for the environment and fairness for farmers. The average payment in the UK is already below the 90 per cent EU average payment and efforts to further reduce payments will only serve to compound the disadvantage. This is nothing less than a blatant attempt by the UK Government to disadvantage our farmers through unilateral national action for deeper and faster cuts.

"Through these CAP and EU Budget negotiations, Ministers have the choice to argue for fairness for all European farmers and to make concerted efforts to secure a more balanced allocation of rural development money. Unfortunately it seems that Ministers are focusing their efforts on ways to reduce Treasury spend on rural development measures. We sincerely hope that Ministers realise that this is totally unacceptable to the farming community and are a clear signal of intent to disadvantage UK farmers."