CAP Budget Cuts Require Rethink of Spending24 April 2013
UK - Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget cuts for the next seven years means an urgent rethink of spending is needed, said the National Farmers Union Council, speaking on the future implementation of the CAP reform in England and Wales.
Farmer members called for a fundamental rethink of the rural development programmes after hearing that the CAP budget will be cut at a European level for the next seven years.
The NFU has reiterated its commitment to continuing improvement of the farmed environment, as well as increasing agricultural production. And chairing the session, with CAP adviser Gail Soutar, NFU President Peter Kendall stressed that it was not a case of favouring production and neglecting the environment.
“The amount of money transferred from the single farm payment to rural development measures must be kept to an absolute minimum, based on the funds available,” said Mr Kendall.
“The NFU has always taken the view that it is unrealistic to expect the CAP to be exempt from cuts when budgets are being slashed across the EU. The important thing is that English and Welsh farmers are treated equally with their main competitors in Europe.”
The allocations to each country from the EU budget have not yet been officially confirmed, but well-founded reports indicate that the UK’s share of Pillar One payments will be reduced by 10 per cent in real terms over the next seven years, which is close to the European average. By contrast, the UK’s second pillar allocation, which was already the lowest in Europe, appears to have been cut by 22per cent - by far the largest cut of any member state.
The Council also heard that the government was likely to examine the possibility of moving to two regions (Moorland and the rest of England) rather than three for the single farm payment in England. The Council agreed that the NFU would need to analyse and consult on any proposal on these lines. A number of upland farmers also made the point that they would prefer to rely on the single farm payment in the future rather than rural development programmes.
Mr Kendall said: “NFU Council has stressed today that it would be intolerable if the government, having acquiesced in the largest Pillar Two cut in Europe, sought to mitigate it by transferring money out from the single farm payment.
“The impact of the appalling weather in the last months has, yet again, underlined the importance of the single farm payment for many farmers and its contribution to the resilience of the agricultural sector in this country.
“The Council has agreed that there needs to be a fundamental review of rural development programmes, in the light of the funds available, and concentrating on those measures that deliver real value to the farming industry. The alternative approach of seeking to maximise the rural development budget and then looking for ways of spending it is totally unacceptable to the NFU.”
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