CLA President William Worsley today (Tuesday, 11 January) gave evidence on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to the influential Commons' Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Committee, setting out the case for an "adequately funded" policy which provides Food and Environmental Security.
Mr Worsley and CLA Policy Director Professor Allan Buckwell gave detailed answers to questions posed by the Committee on CAP reform. The issues covered included the future of Single Farm Payments, competitiveness in agriculture, payment capping, sustainable food production, increased environmental requirements, food security and the mechanisms for delivering more environmental "public goods".
Asked what the CLA would like to see from CAP reform, the CLA President told Efra: "An adequately funded CAP which is far better justified in the eyes of the public and taxpayer. This will be one which helps sustain the EU capacity to feed itself, contributes to global food security and makes clearer and better provision for rewarding farmers for the public goods they provide – in short a CAP for Food and Environmental Security."
Mr Worsley said the Single Payment System would "survive until 2020 and evolve" and, although no agreement has been reached yet on how the available support would be redistributed, he argued "that the relative importance of payments for public environmental goods is rising so any redistribution should reflect this".
On agricultural competitiveness, Professor Buckwell said the long-term improvement of food productivity was being impeded by the EU's attitude to the use of biotechnology in crop and livestock production.
On capping payments to large farmers, Mr Worsley said the CLA opposed the capping proposal because it would discriminate against some of the most "productive full-time farms" and the providers of the greatest environmental and social public goods, create disincentives to improve labour productivity and cause legal battles between farmers and administrators, among other compelling reasons.
He said: "A better structured CAP in which the supports are more clearly targeted to the provision of goods the market cannot supply does not require the additional complexity of payment caps."
On competitiveness and sustainability, Mr Worsley said: "We have to talk about food and sustainability in the same breath because our food producers are also our most important environmental land managers."
Asked about the future CAP budget, the CLA President said: "The CLA argues that we must first agree what we want the CAP to do, then estimate what a reasonable cost of achieving that is. . . we suggest this will lead to a CAP budget settlement not far from the current size."