UK - The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) provides the agricultural sector a massive boost to economic growth and jobs in rural areas and all the way up and down the food supply chain. Chris Harris reports from the NFU conference.
The European agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan [pictured] told the UK National Farmers’ Union annual conference in Birmingham that the historical purpose of the CAP was to ensure a sufficient supply of safe and sustainably produced food.
“Producing food is the primary role of farmers and the delivery of high-quality traceable food should be seen as a public good,” Commissioner Hogan said.
He said the latest reforms in the CAP mean that there is a market-oriented policy allowing farm businesses to decide for themselves what they want to produce on the basis of what they are good at and where the farmers can get a good price rather than looking for support from the European Commission.
He added that the reforms also mean that 30 per cent of the direct payments farmers now receive are linked to environmental issues – an area that the non-farming community had criticised the subsidies for in the past.
While he said he recognised some of the criticisms of the latest reforms to the CAO, he believes the system will deliver the best environment for an ambitious farming sector.
“While I will robustly defend the importance and value of the CAP, I will listen closely to constructive feedback regarding its implementation,” Commissioner Hogan said.
“I believe that improvement is possible in many areas, which is why I have made simplification a top priority for my work programme in 2015.
“we must take every possible step to allow farmers to achieve their fill business and job-creating potential.”
Commissioner Hogan said that simpler rules will make for greater competitiveness.
However he added that simplification will not be easy as any changes must not reduce the operational effectiveness of the CAP.
He said: “I will listen closely to the farmers of Europe as they deliver feedback on the implementation of the new CAP measures.
“You, the custodians of the soil, are nest placed to let policymakers know what works well and what could work better,” he told the NFU conference.
He said he will review the direct payments system after its first year and will also review other areas within the direct payment system.
He also promised to simplify the 200 regulations covering the sector.
“Agriculture must continue to become more productive and more efficient,” he said.
And he added that within the CAP there also needs to be measure to encourage young innovators into farming and innovative practices.