12 June 1998
CAP reform plans flawed, claims WTO

By Allan Wright

THE Government has been told that proposals to reform the CAP are flawed because they will not deliver a sound basis for the next round of World Trade Organisation negotiations.

“We would be deeply concerned if the council of ministers agreed reform of the CAP which, within a very short time, required fundamental modification to comply with undertakings given in the WTO round,” the NFU states in its submission to the Government on Agenda 2000.

“Too often, individual elements of the commissions proposals conflict with its broad aim of establishing a competitive agriculture which can gradually face up to the world market without being oversubsidised,” it adds.

The union wants CAP reform to provide a lasting framework for transition to a market-orientated European agriculture. Simple criteria were used to judge the commission proposals – did they leave British and European farming profitable and more competitive? Did they avoid knock-on or distortive effects between sectors and member states? And did they simplify bureaucratic procedures?

“There are many areas in which our criteria are not met at present,” the union states and goes on to list the changes it wants the British minister to achieve.

Top of the list is proper compensation for the for lost market support, seen as especially important in the UK with pressure on farm incomes. Without such compensation, the union argues, the pace of change will become too great.

“Many farmers, workers and their families will suffer unnecessarily. Large swathes of rural Britain will face further economic and social hardship and the countryside, which farmers have made and conserved, will suffer.”

A clear and unequivocal message is demanded from the commission on the future of milk quotas. For cereal farmers, the union wants intervention support restored for feed wheat and is concerned that the commission intends to retain the right to impose export taxes.

  • For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 12-18 June, 1998

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