8 October 1999

Modulation still a goer, says Brown

FARM minister Nick Brown has told Devon farmers that modulation – the reduction and redistribution of aid payments paid to larger farms – is still being considered despite fierce opposition from senior NFU officials in London.

Speaking at a meeting in Devon this week, Mr Brown made it clear that he was not ruling out some form of modulation.

Modulation

But his idea of modulation was not the one promoted by small farmers to give them a share of direct payments. Mr Brown clearly saw modulation as a way of taking part of almost everyones direct payments so that he could then redistribute it to help pay for rural development measures.

He said such a system "would increase incentives to restructure and become more competitive".

Frustrations

This will add to the frustrations of the majority of south west NFU members who see modulation as potentially helpful to their circumstances and find themselves increasingly at odds with their national leaders for failing to secure what they want.

A Somerset group of NFU members is collecting signatures nationwide to back a campaign for change to a one member, one postal vote system for election of all NFU headquarters council delegates, including president and deputies.

The topic was understood to be on the agenda for the closed session of NFU HQ council this week.