UK: Farm groups join forces to campaign for ‘fairer’ CAP deal

A farming coalition is united against some agricultural policy

A farming coalition is united against some agricultural policy

Farm groups have joined forces to campaign for a “fair” deal for English farmers on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform.

The National Farmers’ Union, Country Land and Business Association and Tenant Farmers’ Association argue UK farmers already receive lower farm payments than their competitors and fear the UK Government has negotiated powers which could widen this gap by switching money to rural development.

They also fear its preferred method of implementing ‘greening’ of the CAP could close off options available to other EU farmers.

The coalition says it does not agree on every CAP issue, but is united on these two central issues and has announced a number of principles which it is encouraging the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to adopt.

English farmers, like farmers in the rest of Europe, must have a choice of greening options, including access to all the applicable categories deemed “green by definition” which grant farmers automatic entitlement to the greening aid envisaged within the reform package, the coalition says.

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It says greening “should not impose higher standards, or compliance costs, on English farmers than those in other UK regions or memberstates of the EU, and that given food security and economic concerns, it must be implemented in a way that does not require the land in question to be taken out of production and avoids unjustifiable loss in farm income”.

Farmers should be able to opt out of participation in the specific greening measures, the farming coalition says, and, as a consequence, forego the 30% of the new payment envisaged for greening within the new pillar one framework but without further penalty.

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“We believe that our current combination of statutory and voluntary measures produces levels of environmental protection and improvement that are well above the European average,” the coalition adds.

“Introducing a Greening element into Pillar 1 removes the need for the Government to switch funds from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. The outcome of the EU Budget negotiations 2014-2020 means that there must be a radical rethink of Government policy, matching the ambition of the next programme with the level of funds available. Measures to promote jobs and growth must be prioritised;

“The Campaign for the Farmed Environment will play a central role in enhancing environmental outcomes from farmed land in England by providing valuable guidance for the ‘intelligent’ selection and location of greening measures on farm, and reducing the need for prescriptive regulation.”

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