Euro-MPs have criticised EU Commission plans to limit the amount of farm support paid out to larger farmers and rejected the idea of moving more funds to rural development by increasing modulation as part of the 2008 CAP health check.

According to the European parliament’s agriculture committee, capping direct aids “would put large farms or associations at an unjustifiable disadvantage”.

“There is no clear link between the size and wealth of a farm” said a spokesman. “The proposal does not factor in the workforce needed to maintain a large scale agricultural holding.”

Further modulation, as advocated by EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel, would also knock 8% off direct payments to farmers by 2013 and was rejected.

Progressive modulation

But the agriculture committee did suggest a system of “progressive modulation”, with say, a 1% deduction in direct payments from €10,000 to €100,000 rising to a 4% deduction from payments of over €300,000.

Any money captured by this modulation would stay in the same member state.

The committee did support commission plans to end set-aside, extend decoupling and cut intervention.

The report will now be voted on by the full European parliament in March and its opinion fed into the EU Commission as it draws up official CAP health check proposals for May.

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