Haskins sees CAP responsibility change in 2008

Lord Haskins has set out a vision for a radical restructuring of EU farm supports that would see responsibility for CAP devolved from Brussels to individual member states after the Commission revisits arrangements in 2008.

The pro-European peer with farming interests in Yorkshire and Ireland told this week’s Semex Knowledge is Power dairy conference, Glasgow, it was clear current arrangements were at fault and further change was essential.

“On my arable farm last year we lost money on subsidised crops of wheat, barley and rape, but more than made up for this out of the profits on two unsubsidised crops – potatoes and vining peas.

Subsidies sustain inefficiencies and they encourage farmers to grow crops on land which is not suitable for the purpose,” he explained.

“This is what I believe should happen: All export subsidies phased out 2008-2013 and import barriers significantly reduced.

“With no special market treatment for farming there is no further need for a CAP.

The two other pillars of CAP – the single payment and Environmental & Rural Development Funds – should be renationalised.”

The single payment would be a social issue to help vulnerable farms and, as such, should be the responsibility of national governments, he suggested.

Rural development budgets should go for the same reason.

Some euro-sceptic farming friends were, ironically, against these moves knowing they get a better deal out of the EU, he said.

Some poorer EU states might find such changes hard to finance, he admitted.

“I agree and would suggest half the money saved out of the renationalisation of the CAP should be transferred to structural funds provided to the poorer countries.”

A shake up in the dairy sector would follow.

Removal of quota would allow efficient dairy businesses the freedom to expand and, in time, see dairy prices rise easing the pain of reform, he predicted.

To survive producers would have to inevitably be “larger, more efficient, more innovative and more competitive”.

Not all delegates agreed.

John Allen of Kite Consulting suggested some member states would find back-door methods for diverting savings from the scrapping of CAP to subsidise their farming sectors – already evident in pan-EU surveys.