Farm leaders praise CAP reform report

The NFU has described a report by European MEPs as an endorsement of its position on Common Agricultural Policy reform.

The European Parliament Agriculture Committee adopted a report setting out its views on the CAP towards 2020 on Wednesday (25 May).

The report, which was drafted by German centre right MEP, Albert Dess, calls for the continuation of a strong and sustainable CAP.

Simplification of the CAP must be a driving objective of the next reform, the report says.

The European Commission should submit an impact assessment on proposals for a so-called “greening” component that would introduce more environmental measures.

The report also calls for both voluntary and compulsory modulation to end in 2012.

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said the document recognised that the primary strategic objective of agriculture was food security.

“MEPs will have a critical role to play in shaping the CAP post 2013,” he said. “The result of the vote today is a ringing endorsement for a strong and sustainable policy.”

Mr Raymond said MEPs clearly recognised the challenges ahead for Europe’s farmers as well as the opportunities for farmers to contribute to Europe’s goals for growth.

“In line with NFU policy, MEPs view the primary objective of agriculture as being food security. Also the principles of greater competiveness, fairness and simplification must underpin the CAP.”

The most divisive aspect of the draft report centres on measures to further “green” the CAP.

But Mr Raymond said MEPs had recognised the need to complement existing agri-environment schemes.

“We have strongly lobbied MEPs to illustrate the good work being done on our farms and to ensure that any greening element will not jeopardise our agri-environment schemes.”

The NFU needed to see how any greening element could be delivered simply, without hampering productivity or farm competiveness, Mr Raymond said.

It was reassuring that MEPs agreed that additional greening should be done through positive incentives which delivered on-farm sustainability and long-term food security.

Some green measures offered a win-win, said Mr Raymond. By increasing the efficiency of farm inoputs, for example, it was also possible to reduce production costs.

Frustratingly for the NFU, however, MEPs supported the European Commission proposal to introduce an upper limit on direct payments.

The draft report will now be voted on by the full European Parliament in June.

Mr Raymond said: “Between now and then, I will continue to work with MEPs through our dedicated office in Brussels to tackle the issues that matter to our members.”