CAP proposals are ‘largely in right direction’, says CLA

25 October 2013

The CLA said that the Council of Ministers' decisions on CAP reform have bolstered the proposals.

CLA South East director Robin Edwards said: "We are pleased EU Agriculture Ministers - in the wake of the European Parliament's decision on CAP last week - have improved the proposals in two areas which could have caused major problems for UK farmers, those relating to the definition of 'active farmers' and payment capping as a result of lobbying by the CLA and other industry bodies.

"The active farmer requirement would have been a bureaucratic nightmare for farmers and the payment agencies in England and Wales, and imposing capping would have sent entirely the wrong message on the desirability of farms consolidating and taking advantage of economies of scale."

However, Mr Edwards said it was "disappointing" that the Council of Ministers has chosen to take Europe's farmers one step further away from a level playing field when it comes to switching money between the agricultural pillar (Pillar One) and rural development pillar (Pillar Two) of the CAP.

He said: "We ought to be moving towards a system that reduces distortions between farmers in different countries. Instead, we are increasing these distortions by supporting the ability of member states to switch payments between the pillars.

"Nevertheless, the Ministers support for tailoring the Commission's greening requirements to the needs of different types of farm is welcome."

The CLA regional director added: "We are cautiously optimistic Environment Secretary Owen Paterson's plan to tie the Commission's greening proposals into English agri-environment schemes will prove to be a fair and sensible way forward.

"We will continue to examine the details of what the Council of Ministers has said and work with the Environment Secretary, Defra and industry partners to secure CAP reform that works for farmers and the environment."

The Council of Ministers' agreement will now form the basis of the Council position for negotiations with the European Parliament. Talks will begin on 11 April and the Irish Presidency is still hoping that agreement can be reached between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament by the end of June.