French clause threatens CAP, claims NFU
CONCESSIONS won by France at the last EU Farm Ministers Council threaten to unravel the CAP, the NFU complained on Monday (July 3).
Almost unnoticed, the French slipped in a clause that would let them pay national aids to any of their farmers disadvantaged by countries with weaker currencies.
NFU president, Sir David Naish said he was most concerned. It would allow the French government to give their farmers compensatory payments provided they were decoupled from production.
"This is totally unjustified and could represent a first step towards renationalising the CAP," said Sir David. "Ministers really must have a rethink about the divisiveness this could cause among EU member states."
UK farm minister, William Waldegrave agreed with the NFU. It was a retrograde step and he had voted against it in the council.
Lot more arguing
He promised there would be a lot more arguing about it when the commission brought its proposals for the move to the farm council.
Both minister and NFU president noted the current buoyancy in UK agriculture, with most sectors enjoying higher incomes.
They were also in agreement on the need for the UK to remain part of the EU because of the importance to agriculture of its single market of 360m consumers. But they disagreed over the need for a single EU currency.
Mr Waldegrave said a single currency was not necessary to maintain a reformed CAP. Sir David argued it was vital to remove the unfairness created by the latest agrimonetary arrangements, which would allow strong currency countries like Germany to avoid cutting direct payments such as area aids after any future revaluations.
• Recent political uncertainty and the associated slide in the value of sterling led to a 0.35% devaluation in the green £ on Tuesday (July 4), the day of John Majors re-election as Conservative party leader.
As such, most farm support prices have been raised by an equivalent amount, taking the November grain intervention price to £101.69/t. The devaluation arrived too late to benefit arable area aid and set-aside payments. Green rates will be reviewed again on July 14. *