High Level Lobby Event Brings CAP Concerns to Fore31 May 2013
UK - NFU President Peter Kendall has joined a group of influential farming leaders to lobby the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and the President of the Agriculture Council on CAP reform.
The event took place yesterday in Brussels (Thursday May 30) and was hosted by Italian farming organisation Coldiretti. It brought together the Presidents of the leading Italian, French, German and Irish Farming Unions to present a common voice on the outstanding CAP reform concerns as talks enter their final few weeks.
“All indications are that there will be a political agreement on CAP reform by the end of June,” said Mr Kendall.
“It will be Chairman De Castro’s and Minister Coveney’s responsibility to broker that deal. That’s why today’s event has been incredibly timely, to remind the key negotiators of what EU farmers want to see achieved in the final agreement.
“From my perspective, I’ve always felt that this CAP reform has been a missed opportunity. We’ve got just 37 harvests to increase our food production to the level where it can feed 9 billion people and just 12 harvest before another billion mouths need to be fed. We’ve undertaken countless initiatives to cut red tape and bureaucracy and policy makers have spent the best part of the past 50 years trying to keep the policy as common as possible so that farmers are able to compete fairly on the EU’s single market.
“Instead of delivering a genuine policy framework that embraces and fosters a modern, market orientated, competitive farming sector, free of unnecessary red tape, I fear we will be left with a complex mish-mash of competing and contradictory policy components which will leave farmers facing more bureaucracy and more distortions in the market than ever before. But there is still time to sort out some of these concerns, many of which were echoed by the Presidents from the other farming organisations today.
“It is vital that we maintain an EU-led approach to agricultural policy, limiting as much as possible powers to create distortions or renationalising the budget through transfers from pillar one to pillar two. We were all in agreement that if member states insist on transfers, that there must a requirement for national treasuries to provide co-financing of those funds. To do otherwise would be renationalisation of the CAP by the back door."
Mr Kendall continued: “We also agreed that all of the unnecessary bureaucracy in the proposals must be pared right back and that greening must be implemented in a way which means that productive land is not taken out of production. This point has already been stipulated by the European Heads of States and Governments back in February, but I am yet to see meaningful changes to the proposals to deliver this. We also need clarity about what precisely member states can implement by way of alternative, but equivalent greening conditions. The other Presidents and I want to see genuine win-win greening measures that deliver both environmental and economic benefits. But so far the Commission has remained wedded to its concept of forcing all arable farmers to grow at least three different crops and setting aside land from production.
“We were also united in our calls for strengthening the role of farmers in the supply chain. Producer organisations which offer genuine negotiating powers to farmers will be a part of that, but so too are policies which bring farmers and consumers closer together. If there is one lesson we can take from the horsemeat scandal which has rocked the EU meat sector in recent months, it’s that consumers demand to know more about their food and want short supply chains. The CAP can and does continue to play a major part in ensuring that consumers continue to get the locally produced, quality product they demand.”
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