DEFRA launches ‘health check’ consultation

DEFRA has launched a 12 week consultation into the CAP “health check”, seeking the views of industry bodies on the EU Commission’s plans to update farm support.

The draft legal texts were published by EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel on 20 May.

They address three key themes:

  • Improving the Single Payment Scheme

  • Making the remaining supports more market oriented

  • Responding to new environmental challenges

Within the first of these are plans to encourage member states to move away from historic to flat rate systems of payment, and to introduce more full-decoupling.

It also seeks to introduce a minimum payment threshold to exclude so-called “pony paddock” claimants. And it extends the Article 69 measure to allow member states to cut up to 10% off SFPs for a range of programmes, such as crop insurance and animal disease funds.

Within the second theme, the commission wants to abolish set-aside, reduce the number of commodities qualifying for intervention and phase out milk quotas.

And within the third theme, it wants to raise more cash for rural development programmes through increased compulsory modulation, with larger farms contributing more.

“This is an important review of the CAP that could potentially have significant implications, particularly for farmers across the EU, as well as enhancing the delivery of environmental benefits, and for cutting prices for consumers,” says the covering letter.

Stakeholders have until 1 September to respond to the consultation, and DEFRA says their views will be used to “inform the UK’s approach to negotiations”.

But earlier this year (in April) the government issued its response to an EU Commission health check consultation. In it, junior DEFRA minister Jeff Rooker said he wanted the health check to be “as ambitious as possible” with more cash transferred to rural development.

He supported the idea that extra modulation should lead to an increase in the UK’s rural development budget, but rejected the idea of larger farmers paying more.

Full details of the consultation can be found on the DEFRA website.