The Government presses ahead with consultation on farm reforms

UK - A news release from Defra concerning the implications of the new CAP reform, and inviting UK farmers to voice their opinions during a 12-week consultation period.
calendar icon 23 July 2003
clock icon 4 minute read
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Farmers, environmentalists and other interested parties are being asked for their views on how to put into practice major changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) agreed by European agriculture ministers last month.

Defra today launched a 12-week consultation in England on the CAP reform package agreed by the EU on 26 June.

The CAP deal secured what the UK government and farmers wanted - real change freeing farmers to produce the safe, high-quality food which people want.

The deal included:

  • A new Single Payment Scheme to replace the many existing direct payment schemes.
  • Breaking the link between farm subsidies and production ('decoupling') to reconnect farmers to their markets, reduce damaging environmental impacts and cut red tape.
  • National envelopes to fund schemes to promote sustainable farming.
  • Cross-compliance to make subsidies dependent on environmental and animal health and welfare standards.
  • A bigger and earlier switch in support from production subsidies to schemes for environmental protection and rural development ('modulation') will apply EU-wide.
  • A new financial discipline which will reduce subsidies if CAP expenditure is in danger of exceeding agreed limits, but protecting UK farmers against unfair settlements.
Defra's consultation paper, published today, makes clear that the UK will implement the reforms on a regional basis and plans to introduce the new payment scheme from the earliest possible date, 1 January 2005. Full decoupling will apply to arable and livestock sectors in England.

Defra also seeks views on a number of key issues including:
  • How to use up to ten per cent of payments within a national envelope to pay for farming which protects or enhances the environment or to improve the quality and marketing of agricultural produce. The government is minded to make use of this in England.
  • Whether to apply the direct payment on a flat-rate basis either to all farmland or to arable and pastureland at different rates. This would extend cross-compliance to more land but introduce a considerable redistribution of aid within the industry.
  • Which flexibilities on set-aside to adopt including those on rotational set-aside, strip width, growing non-food crops and energy crops.
  • Whether to make immediate use of some new measures added to the Rural Development Regulation, such as funding local strategic partnerships.
Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty said:

"The CAP agreement was a radical change. The 'big win' of decoupling is welcome, but a lot of work still needs to be done to put into action the reforms agreed just three weeks ago, and there are a number of big decisions which need to be taken.

"We have taken three key strategic decisions - on the date we want the new single payment scheme to start, for it to be implemented on a regional basis so that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can take local priorities into account, and for full decoupling to be applied in the arable and livestock sectors in England. This is in line with our approach throughout the negotiations, which took into account responses to earlier consultations.

"While we wait for more detailed implementation rules from the European Commission, there are some high-level options on which we can consult now in order to give farmers in the UK a clearer picture of how the reforms will affect them.

"We want to engage everyone with a stake in this process and to seek their views on strategic issues. Although the timetable and workload for reform is challenging we can press ahead with issues which might otherwise cause uncertainty and problems for the industry."

For copies of the consultation document see or contact [email protected] or CAP Reform Consultation, Area 8A, 9 Millbank, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR (fax 020 7238 3058).

Source: DEFRA - 23rd July 2003
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