Hold CAP Nerve Call from NFU

UK - Europe must hold its nerve on the forthcoming CAP Health Check and continue to drive through the reforms fundamental to ensuring a vibrant and competitive farming industry within the UK and on the Continent as a whole.
calendar icon 11 November 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

That will be the call from NFU President Peter Kendall giving the 25th Edith Mary Gayton Memorial Lecture at Reading University last night (Monday). Mr Kendall will argue that the CAP has moved dramatically in recent times and that the Health Check offers the opportunity for a refocus of the 2003 reforms.

"The CAP has come a long way and continues to show a lead, with Europe going further than any other trading block in its liberalisation offer at the latest round of WTO negotiations, for example. We are also seeing plans to direct unspent money that would have been used in managing markets internally to be used instead for helping agriculture and development in the poorer countries around the world.

"That is not to say that the CAP we have in place is the final, definitive version, and in that regard we were disappointed that the European Commission was not as ambitious as it might have been in advocating full decoupling of all support payments," said Mr Kendall.

The NFU has three core principles regarding the CAP Health Check: market orientation commonality and simplification. Mr Kendall will call for these to be the key drivers in the Health Check.

"We now find in the current climate of volatile markets some countries back-tracking on the removal of coupled support payments and seeking more flexibility on national envelopes. This damages the market within Europe and impacts very much on farmers within the UK," said Mr Kendall.

He will also call on the UK Government to take a more constructive approach to the CAP.

"Our Government could play a far more effective role in shaping the future direction of the CAP if it did not sometimes give the impression that it would like to see it scrapped. The CAP is here to stay, and if we want to see it evolve in a sensible way then the UK Government needs to play its part."

Negotiations on the CAP Health Check take place next week. Peter Kendall is due to meet Mariann Fischer Boel this Thursday and Secretary of State Hilary Benn the following Monday, and is in Brussels next week for the Agriculture Council, and will continue to press for a steady nerve on reform.

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