England’s farmers will have 17% of their single farm payments siphoned off this year as a result of voluntary and compulsory modulation, DEFRA secretary David Miliband has confirmed.

Mr Miliband announced yesterday (Thursday 28th March) that voluntary modulation would be set at 12% for 2007, rising to 13% in 2009 and 14% in 2010, 2011 and 2012. This is in addition to the 5% compulsory EU modulation that will apply throughout the whole period.

The secretary of state also revealed that 40% government co-funding would be available, meaning that for every £60 raised from farmers by voluntary modulation, £40 would be put in by the

Combined with core funding from Brussels and compulsory EU modulation, this would give a total rural development fund for 2007-2013 of £3.9bn, of which £3.3bn is earmarked for agri-environmental schemes.

“Way of life”

“For many in the countryside, looking after the environment is a way of life,” said Mr Miliband. “I hope that the near £4bn funding – more than double the previous budget – will help to make the English countryside a thriving community as well as a beautiful place to visit.

“We will be able to build on the popularity with farmers of the Entry Level Stewardship scheme and provide increased funding for the more restricted Higher Level Stewardship scheme,” he added.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, NFU chief economist Carmen Suarez said it was good news that farmers now knew what the modulation cuts would be, so they could plan their businesses. “But we remain fundamentally opposed to the principle of voluntary modulation and will look for a resolution to this issue in next year’s CAP health check,” she added.

Head of policy at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sue Armstrong Brown, said DEFRA had worked hard to get top-up funding from the Treasury, and that was welcomed.

But the package still did not provide enough for government to deliver on all of its environmental objectives.


DEFRA’s declaration came hot on the heels of a similar announcement in Northern Ireland where voluntary modulation is to be set at 7% this year, rising to 8% in 2008 and 2009, 9% in 2010 and 10% in 2011 and 2012. Agriculture minister David Cairns said that these rates would enable the department to ensure “a balanced and targeted rural development programme for all of the rural community”.
But the enhanced rates drew strong criticism from the Ulster Farmers’ Union, which said the minister had effectively handed farmers a bill for an additional £55m. “At a time when so many farm businesses are going through prolonged financial difficulties, it is hard to believe that the minister’s solution is to take even more of their income from them,” said UFU president Kenneth Sharkey.
Scotland and Wales are not expected to announce their levels of voluntary modulation until after their elections in May.