The NFU, CLA and TFA have joined forces to campaign for a fair deal for English farmers on CAP reform. Critical for achieving that outcome, the industry has identified two central concerns, both intrinsically linked to each other.
UK farmers already receive a level of farm payments considerably lower than our main competitors. Instead of finding ways to secure a more level playing field across the EU, Defra has successfully negotiated the powers to potentially widen the gap in payment levels further by switching money in the CAP from the direct payments envelope to the rural development envelope.
The second threat relates to plans to “green” the direct payments. Negotiations are on-going at a European level but the industry fears that Defra’s preferred method of implementing greening would close off options that will be available to farmers in other parts of the UK and across the EU.
The coalition does not agree on every CAP issue, but it is united on these two central issues and has announced a number of principles which they are encouraging Defra to adopt in designing the delivery of the future CAP policy at an English level:
English farmers, like farmers in the rest of Europe, must have a choice of greening options, including access to all the applicable categories deemed “green by definition” which grant farmers automatic entitlement to the greening aid envisaged within the reform package;
Greening should not impose higher standards, or compliance costs, on English farmers than those in other UK regions or Member States of the EU;
Given food security and economic concerns, Greening must be implemented in a way that does not require the land in question to be taken out of production and avoids unjustifiable loss in farm income; a point that has already been endorsed by the EU Heads of Government;
Farmers should be able to opt out of participation in the specific Greening measures and, as a consequence, forego the 30 per cent of the new payment envisaged for Greening within the new pillar one framework but without further penalty;
We believe that our current combination of statutory and voluntary measures produces levels of environmental protection and improvement that are well above the European average;
Introducing a Greening element into Pillar 1 removes the need for the Government to switch funds from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. The outcome of the EU Budget negotiations 2014-2020 means that there must be a radical rethink of Government policy, matching the ambition of the next programme with the level of funds available. Measures to promote jobs and growth must be prioritised;
The Campaign for the Farmed Environment will play a central role in enhancing environmental outcomes from farmed land in England by providing valuable guidance for the ‘intelligent’ selection and location of greening measures on farm, and reducing the need for prescriptive regulation.