CAP reform was always going to dominate the opening day of the NFU Conference given DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman and EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos were sharing the platform.
Mr Ciolos was keen to deliver a message that in his view the reforms will strengthen the competitiveness of the EU’s farmers as well as having a positive environmental impact.
He set out a series of arguments in favour of greening, acknowledging UK farmers’ fears that they could be unfairly penalised for having signed up to environmental stewardship schemes if plans to introduce 7% ecological focus areas are introduced.
“We will find the appropriate ways to recognise efforts made under your agri-environmental schemes where they genuinely contribute to greening,” he said.
“We are not going to penalise the champions.”
Mrs Spelman talked about wanting to forge a new partnership between government and farming.
“We are listening to you. We are supporting you. We trust your expertise,” she said.
“And if government is getting in your way when we don’t need to be – I want to know about it.”
Farmers Weekly asked delegates what would be the key message they would take home from the session.