NFU Reacts to EU Budget Deal11 February 2013
UK - The cut to the EU’s long term budget for 2014-20 agreed by the Heads of Government for the first time in history will mean the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will also be reduced.
And this now paves the way for the reforms in the CAP, according to the British National Farmers' Union.
The NFU said the deal now opens the way to an agreement on CAP Reform, which the Irish Presidency hope to conclude in June. For the NFU, the two absolutely critical points are that the UK, and its members, are treated fairly both in budgetary terms and in terms of the 'greening' conditions that are imposed on them.
NFU President Peter Kendall said: "The NFU has consistently stated that it would be unrealistic to expect the CAP could be exempt from cuts, when all public expenditure across Europe is under pressure. The important thing for us is to ensure that the UK is treated fairly and equitably.
"The Heads of Government have introduced some improvements in the Commission’s proposals as they affect agricultural spending. For example, they have agreed that ‘greening’ of the CAP will not require land to be taken out of production and that ‘capping’ of the payments to larger farmers will be voluntary at Member State level."
Now that this deal has been reached unanimously by 27 Heads of Government, it is important that neither the overall budget figures nor the detailed points of agreement are unpicked by the European Parliament.
Mr Kendall said: "A regrettable part of the budgetary deal is the confirmation that Member States or regions can move up to 15 per cent of their Pillar 1 (single farm payment) budget to Pillar 2 (rural development) without any obligation for national treasuries to matchfund; and all Member States can move 15 per cent and some up to 25 per cent in the other direction. For the NFU, there is no justification for Defra to move money from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. The ‘greening’ of the first Pillar reduces the need for spending in Pillar 2. Furthermore, to reduce our farmers’ payments, which are already well below the EU average, and at a time when others may increase theirs, would be to compound an already unfair situation.
"In terms of greening, English farmers must be given a choice of measures and must not face higher conditions than others in Europe. Some will qualify for the greening payment through membership of environmental stewardship schemes; others must have the choice of complying with common European measures."
Speaking from Brussels, IFA President John Bryan said," “The focus for the Government and the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney in the CAP Reform negotiations must now be to resolve the difficulties for Irish farmers with the greening and internal convergence proposals”.
John Bryan said, “The current Commission proposals on convergence of the Single Farm Payment are totally unacceptable to Irish farmers. Minister Coveney must secure the flexibilities necessary for Ireland to protect and support active productive farmers before any deal is finalised.”
Also cautious about the future implications of the CAP, Guy Vasseur, President of the agricultural chamber said: "I call on MEPs to take into account this financial agreement in its overall balance and without allowing transfers between budget headings."
In the coming weeks,MEPs must weigh in negotiations to defend a strong CAP, serving food security and enhancement of European agricultural potential " said Guy Vasseur, President of the Chambers of Agriculture."
The Spanish organisation, The Coordinator of Farmers and Ranchers (COAG) are faced with a 14 per cent drop in subsiy. They are released calculations that this equates to 6,720 million annually.
"We oppose this cut because it is a new blow to a strategic sector of the real economy, staple food, which carries a loss of income of over 30 per cent in the last decade. This loss will negatively affect the economic and social development of our peoples, agricultural job creation and our productive potential , "stressed Miguel Blanco, Secretary General of COAG.
Speaking on behalf of Italian farmers' organisation Coldiretti, Marini Bliancio, said he expected state and EU parliaments to clash over the budget proposals.
He added: " At this historical moment, EU spending cuts mean nations do not have adequate resources. This is certainly not creating a climate of confidence in the prospect of greater integration.
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