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NFU: CAP Reforms Having Major Impact

27 February 2013

UK - The current round of CAP reform negotiations are going to have a major impact in the UK farming sector, writes Chris Harris.

This was the message from UK Environment Secretary Own Paterson to the National Farmers Union annual conference in Birmingham on Wednesday.

Mr Paterson said that he is pressing the other states in the EU for further advances on decoupling payments to farmers for production of food and moving payments to environmental and technology issues.

However, he said that because there are at present 27 different states giving their opinion and his is just one voice, there is bound to be compromise on this occasion.

"Unfortunately there are countries resisting reform," Mr Paterson told the conference.

"The recent amendments in the European Parliament are an illustration of exactly what we are up against.

"At a time when governments across the EU are pumnping money into stopping people smoking, it's crazy to be even considering reinstating subsidies for the production of tobacco."

He said that he did not want to see the CAP budget used to support products that consumers do not want jst to go into intervention stores.

The current CAP budget has been set at €52 billion a year although the allocation for separate states still has to be set.

However, he said these funds need to be spent effectively.

"I remain convinced that farmers' decisions about which crops to grow and which animals to raise should be left to the market," Mr Paterson said.

"Coupled payments and other subsidies are distorting, that's why I want coupled payments limited to a maximum of five per cent.

"This is already happening. Farmers have risen to the challenge withj over 90 per cent of EU support payments now decoupled."

However, he said that Pillar 1 direct payments will continue until 2020 and he said that the European Commission will insist on some greening measures in the package.

However, he said that he wants the greening measures to be simple to understand and to implement and he said he wants to see flexibility in the implementation of the measures.

"I do believe that there is a real role for taxpayers' money in compensating farmers for the work they do in enhancing the environment and providing public goods for which there is no market mechanism."

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

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