Farm minister opposes modulation plans

EU Commission plans to up the rates of modulation to generate more funds for rural development got a pasting when EU farm ministers debated the proposal in Brussels this week.

Agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has suggested lifting the basic rate of modulation from 5% to 13% by 2012 as part of her CAP “health check”, with additional cuts for larger farmers.

Under her proposals, farmers receiving over €300,000 (£240,000) in single farm payment would have 22% trimmed off.

But ministers from Austria, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain opposed the plans. Some said that any change was inappropriate given that member states’ rural development plans have now been agreed until 2013. Others said the increases were too high.

UK junior agriculture minister Jonathan Shaw was among the few who spoke in favour of the modulation proposal. In England, voluntary modulation already takes another 13% of the SFP, on top of the 5% EU rate, though this is expected to reduce as the EU rate increases.

EU farm ministers are expected to agree the whole health check package in November – it is one of the priorities for the new French presidency.

NFU chief economist Carmen Suarez said she still expected increased rates of EU modulation to feature, though the numbers would have to be lower than those currently on the table.

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