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NFU Council Debates CAP Payment Issue

by 5m Editor
8 October 2003, at 12:00am

UK - NFU Council has agreed a position in the complex debate on whether payments under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy should be paid on a regional or historical basis.

After a lengthy discussion yesterday afternoon, the NFU’s governing body agreed that whatever system is adopted, it must address the following principles:

  • Be as simple as it can be made
  • Minimise redistribution of existing support
  • Promote market focus
  • Keep money with working farmers
The debate was in response to a consultation by Defra on how farmers in England should receive future payments under the CAP.

Under the historic system, the single farm payment would be based on the average of payments received by a farmer from 2000-2002. But this would mean farmers who have taken on land since this period would have to apply to the “national reserve“.

The alternative is to establish a regional average payment, essentially by dividing the payments over all the eligible land. There are various options on how this might happen, but the main problem with this is that it would result in a large redistribution of current payments, hitting some farmers hard.

This is particularly the case in the livestock sector.

Some variations on the regional model have been put forward to reduce this problem but it is not at all clear if these would be allowed under the Regulation.

NFU President Sir Ben Gill said: “This is an extremely complex area and it is clear that neither system is perfect. Council had a lively debate on this with many heartfelt views.

“But ultimately Council decided that there are a number of key principles on which any payment system should be based and that these are the elements on which government should focus.

“Any new system must have at its heart these key principles of simplicity, a minimisation of redistribution, keeping money with working farmers and allowing farmers to focus on the market place.

“We now ask Defra to tell us which of the various different permutations they believe are permissible and would be willing to operate. We will then judge according to our principles and come to a definite position.“

The CAP reforms were agreed by the European Commission’s Agriculture Council in June. Member state governments are now consulting on how the changes should be implemented locally. The changes will be implemented from 2005.

Source: National Farmers Union - 7th October 2003

5m Editor