East Anglia: Region’s farmers visit Brussels to see National Farmers’ Union in action

Eighteen farmers, including a number from Suffolk, visited Brussels earlier this week to find out how the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is influencing the negotiations surrounding reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

As CAP proposals work their way between the European Parliament and European Commission and a wide variety of trade associations and NGOs all try to influence the final outcome, the trip provided an ideal opportunity to explain to East Anglian NFU members how policy was formulated and to see the CAP developing.

Explaining the role of the NFU in Brussels were advisers from BAB – the British Agriculture Bureau – which represents the NFU to the various European Institutions. The farmers also visited the European Parliament, sitting in on an Agriculture Committee debate in which MEP Mr Capoulas Santos presented his report on how the current CAP proposals should be modified, before an informal meeting with a number of East Anglian MEPs. The group also discussed some of the finer points of CAP proposals, in particular the ‘greening’ elements, with officials from the Environment and Agriculture departments of the European Commission.

Accompanying the delegation were Rachel Carrington, senior policy adviser, and Alex Dinsdale, countryside policy adviser, both from the NFU’s regional office in Newmarket. “These visits, which we run annually, are an excellent way of showing members how law is made in Europe and how the NFU can successfully influence the process,” said Alex. “And with controversial CAP reform proposals on the table, the opportunities which these visits offer for farmers to meet and lobby their MEPs, as well as Commission officials, can be invaluable.”

The visit was funded with the support of Landskills East and sponsored by Robert Sturdy MEP.