Labour's using British farmers as CAP-reform guinea pigs - Bennett

UK - British farmers are being used as guinea pigs to test CAP reform, NFU president Tim Bennett told this week's Oxford Farming Conference.

In a hard-hitting assault on government policy, Mr Bennett said the 2003 reforms had opened the way for renationalisation of the CAP by allowing different degrees of decoupling and different ways of implementing the agreement.

But of greater concern was the EU budget deal struck by Tony Blair in Brussels just before Christmas, which threatened to cause serious competitive distortions by introducing voluntary national modulation with no match-funding.

"The adoption of voluntary national modulation will risk putting us at a disadvantage with respect to other EU countries," said Mr Bennett.

"And if our government refuses to match-fund, it will be a betrayal of previous assurances of their financial commitment to rural development."

The NFU has estimated that 36% of British farmers' single farm payments could be lost through a combination of 20% voluntary modulation, 5% compulsory EU modulation, 3% for the national reserve and 8% cuts to help pay for the accession of Romania and Bulgaria.

"We are increasingly running the risk of one of the most forward-looking, most environmentally aware, most quality-led and market-focused agricultural sectors in Europe being put at a disadvantage by its own politicians," said Mr Bennett.

Source: FWi
calendar icon 9 January 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
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