The CAP coalition, led by the NFU, the CLA and the TFA, met at the Great Yorkshire Show today to reinforce a simple message to government: it supports policy which ensures English farmers can continue to produce high quality food for the British public.
There are two aspects of CAP reform which give the coalition partners - 33 organisations representing the interest of the rural economy – reason for concern.
The first relates to new environmental conditions which will be placed on farmers. In addition, there’s the government’s firm intention to unilaterally reduce English farm payments by up to 15 per cent.
NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: “I cannot stress strongly enough the feeling of frustration amongst farmers to hear on the one hand, the government’s backing for British food production, while on the other hand there is its determination to disadvantage and undermine English farmers’ resilience compared to our European competitors.
“Mr Paterson wants us to focus on making the sector more efficient and productive than its global rivals. I just don’t see how cutting English farmers’ payments and channelling more money to environmental schemes that take land out of production and increase costs will do that.
“We know that the Government has to set the deduction rates by the end of the year. Between now and then, we would like to see Defra set out its priorities for rural development, how government will help us deliver, or at least not hamper, the right conditions for farmers to produce more British food and what is needed by way of transfer rates.
“We need to strike the right balance on rural development objectives and the sector’s resilience and competitiveness. Defra has the flexibility to set the modulation rate initially to less than the maximum 15 per cent. There would then be the option of reviewing the rate upwards in 2017, if a further analysis demonstrates it be necessary.”