The NFU has launched a stinging attack on DEFRA and the UK government ahead of what is expected to be a political agreement on CAP reform.
The union has said the new CAP negotiating position agreed late on Tuesday (25 June) by the agriculture council of ministers will penalise English farmers and make it harder for them to produce food.
NFU president Peter Kendall said the round of CAP reform had been disappointing from the outset.
“But for the NFU, the greatest disappointment is that the biggest threats to English farmers lies ahead and that’s how our own government will seek to implement the new regime back here at home.”
Mr Kendall said for almost every element of the new CAP, there will be flexibilities for DEFRA to select from.
“DEFRA can choose to cut English farmers payments by up to 15% on top of all of the other budget cuts we know are coming. They also have powers to opt out of the standard European rules on ‘greening’ and implement a certification scheme which demands higher environmental standards of our farmers.”
“The question now is whether Mr Cameron’s government will treat English farmers fairly or continue to subject them to the ‘we know best’ policy imposed on the industry by Margaret Beckett back in 2005.”
Peter Kendall, NFU president
Mr Kendall said the UK government was alone in Europe in thinking that doggedly following the free market ideology of cutting payments and ratcheting up environmental standards would help our farmers compete and produce more food.
“The prime minister hit the nail on the head when he addressed NFU conference during his time as the opposition leader. Back then his view was that ‘our government often imposes far more onerous standards on British agriculture than exist elsewhere in the EU’.
“This can have perverse consequences. Instead of driving standards up, they just drive farmers out of business. Our aim must surely be to take our EU partners with us wherever possible at first so we have a truly level playing field on which British farmers can compete.
“The upshot of last night’s agreement in council is that the UK government has failed ‘to take our EU partners’ with us. But they have been granted the powers to go it alone. The question now is whether Mr Cameron’s government will treat English farmers fairly or continue to subject them to the ‘we know best’ policy imposed on the industry by Margaret Beckett back in 2005.”
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