Cereals 2014: ‘Coupled support impact will need monitoring’

The knock-on effect of recoupling support such as that planned in Scotland will have to be addressed if it creates competition issues or spreads further, NFU vice president Guy Smith said at the Cereals Event.

Responding to a Northumberland farmer who raised the issue of whether, given that others were doing it, there was a plan [for England] to re-couple, Mr Smith re-stated the NFU’s position.

“The NFU agrees with the de-coupling movement because we feel that free markets within the CAP is probably the best way to operate. But if we see nations start to move to re-coupling we have got to think about how we address that,” he said.

See also: CAP reform at-a-glance guide for UK’s regions

The Scottish Government announced on Tuesday that as well as its 8% coupled support for beef, it will offer a top up to this for island beef producers and a coupled payment of about £20 a ewe for animals on its poorest rough grazing.

Speaking at an HSBC forum at the event, Mr Smith said that there could be competition issues between nations and production could suffer as a result.

HSBC head of agriculture Allan Wilkinson was nervous of re-coupling, which he saw as a backwards step and one which could have unintended consequences.

Also on the panel, host farmer Robert Law preferred the current more market-oriented approach and did not want a return to coupled support.

See also: Comprehensive coverage of the Cereals event