THE amount of money the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be allocated for the 2014-2020 period is under the spotlight.
European leaders meeting in Brussels yesterday and today are aiming to reach an agreement on the long term budget and, as part of that, will also be discussing some CAP policy issues that are still undecided.
The NFU called on the Government to ensure that farmers get a fair deal. The European farmers’ organisation COPA-COGECA met in Brussels ahead of the budget discussions.
NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said: “We have said all along that it would be unrealistic for us to expect the CAP to be exempt from the austerity measures that are being applied throughout the European Union.
“What is key to us is that whatever settlement is finally reached, the terms and conditions applied to our farmers must not put us at a disadvantage with our major competitors.
“Specifically we expect our government to treat English and Welsh farmers equitably and to ensure that they can operate on a level playing field with our main competitors in the rest of Europe.
“We are deeply concerned that the UK Government continues to negotiate to have the powers to move up to 20% of the money at national level from the UK’s direct payments envelope into its rural development envelope. This would hit our farmers far harder than any cuts that are applied fairly and equally across all European farmers.
“The NFU remains vehemently opposed to granting powers to cut payments at national level. At the very least we believe that there must be an obligation to match fund any transferred monies from within national exchequers. This is the case for the other sources of money to finance the rural development measures and any funds transferred from Pillar 1 should be treated in the same way.”
Issues still being discussed are potentially capping payments and the ‘greening’ of direct payments.
Mr Haworth said: “The NFU would prefer that capping was struck out entirely from the future CAP, but making it voluntary for member states would be an acceptable compromise. Meanwhile, the centrepiece of this CAP reform remains the ‘greening’ of direct payments. If the budget is reduced, it’s only right that the conditions and costs imposed on farmers should also be reduced.”