CAP reform vote shows progress
- Published on Friday, 25 January 2013 11:11
- Posted by Vicki Mitchem
A vote by members of the agriculture committee to move forward the European Parliament's draft position on the future of the CAP shows that NFU lobbying is helping to shape a policy which is better for British agriculture.
Following yesterday's vote, the draft position will head to the full European Parliament plenary session, scheduled to take place in mid-March.
Deputy President of NFU England & Wales, Meurig Raymond said: "The NFU has worked tirelessly with MEPs for months to make sure that the voice of our members is heard loud and clear inside the European Parliament. Those efforts are now paying off.
"The NFU was deeply disappointed with the Commission's proposals when they were issued almost 18 months ago, but this week's vote has brought about significant improvement in many areas, removing some of the worst excesses of unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape from the proposals.
"For example, we lobbied against the distorting economic active farmer test which would have meant every farmer in the country having to disclose their non-agricultural receipts to qualify for CAP payments.
"We asked MEPs to make the greening proposals more workable and to ensure that the efforts of farmers already in agri-environment schemes was taken into consideration. We asked that if a farmer chose not to do the greening requirements, that he would only lose his greening payment
"We asked for changes to the way in which entitlements will operate in the future CAP and a properly functioning national reserve.
"We asked for a more proportionate risk based penalty system, which includes an early warning system for breaches of a more minor nature, as well as removal of the sheep EID from the cross compliance penalty system.
"We asked that the exchange rate used to calculate the value of farm payments be done on the basis of the average of a month as opposed to being set on one day, as is currently the case.
"And for our sugar growers we asked MEPs to reinstate the necessary safeguards and provide a period of stability following the last major reform.
"MEPs have delivered for us on all of these areas and more. Unfortunately not everything has gone entirely the NFU's way, however.
"In an incredibly backwards step MEPs increased the potential scope for coupled support payments which will result in market distortions if not closely controlled by the Commission and potentially get the EU into hot water with the WTO.
"Similarly MEPs voted to increase the flexibility to move money between the two pillars of the CAP up to 15 per cent, the only slight glimmer in that area, being that MEPs did respond to the incredibly important NFU call that this money would have to be match funded by national treasuries.
"MEPs also voted to support capping of the payments to the largest beneficiaries, which will disproportionately hit UK farmers given our larger than average farm sizes.
"The NFU will continue to work very closely with MEPs in the coming months to ensure that what progress has been made, remains. We will also continue to make sure that the objections of farmers are heard on some of the more negative areas of this week's COM AGRI vote."