Newsletter from Europe Special Issue - Farming
Bashir Khanbhai MEP
(Norfolk and Suffolk)





Commissioner Fischler’s Mid Term Review (MTR) of the CAP attempts to progressively reduce EU production subsidies by "de-coupling" (i.e. payments will not relate to present farming activities) in order to meet EU commitments to the WTO. Although farmers will continue to receive support for diversification and enhancing the environment to sustain rural economies, the changes proposed have precipitated grave concerns amongst many EU farmers.

Whilst the EU subsidises farmers growing cereals, oil seed rape and land set aside, it does not offer subsidy for growing potatoes, vegetables and soft fruit. The MTR proposes de-coupling with a single payment to farmers, basing the payment on average claims between 2000-2002. This mode of compensation has the following consequences:-


1.      It bases future compensation on what farmers grew during 2000-2002. Therefore, cereal and oil seed rape farmers who received substantial compensation during 2000-2002 period will continue to receive higher subsidies (€375 per hectare) in future, compared to those who grew vegetables and fruit during 2000-2002, therefore attracting zero EU subsidy.

2.      Such a difference in subsidy for neighbouring farms will distort land valuations and penalise existing vegetable and fruit farmers - both landowners and tenants. That is why it is important that the EU subsidy is tied to the land and made transferable to whomever farms the land at any time.

3.      Farmers deprived of their ability to switch crops from vegetables to cereals will lose their bargaining power with buyers/contractors.  

4.      Vegetable and fruit farmers will have no incentive to rotate crops by switching their pea acreage to cereals and oil seed rape. Farmers do this when faced with fewer contracts or factory closures for pea processing.   

I believe that a fair proposal for the MTR of CAP for EU farmers should be as follows:

The EU should amend the basis for the calculation of the Payment Entitlements to include an allowance for AAPS (Arable Area Payments Scheme) registered land which had been used for vegetables, fruit and potatoes during the reference period of 2000-2002. Under such a scheme, the entitlements would be based on the total amount that the farmer received under the relevant support schemes as well as the AAPS aid to which he would have been entitled had he grown cereal instead of unsupported crops on AAPS registered land. This would have a diluting effect of about 6.5% on the total UK AAPS payments as the acreage for unsupported crops is very low as shown by the figures below:-


June 2002 Census UK:

Hectares                                     Hectares

Cereals     3,245,000    Potatoes  158,000
Set Aside  611,000      Field Veg 124,000
Rape            357,000      Soft Fruit  9,000
Protein         249,000

Total:-       4,462,000                    291,000


What would be the benefits for the farmer and the consumer of adopting this assessment in the MTR?

·        Fair treatment of every arable farmer

·        Achieves genuine de-coupling

·        Permits total flexibility of cropping into the future

·        Complies with WTO regulation

·        No need for detailed annual IACS forms

·        No distortion of land values

·        Solves problems 1,2,3 and 4 listed above

·        Decreases the tendency for intensification of vegetable and potato production


It is important to point out that on the continent (France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden & Denmark), it is normally the factories, not the growers (farmers), who own or control (through independent contractors) the harvesting equipment. Under these circumstances, there will be irresistible economic pressure on processors to switch their growing contracts from their traditional supply base to farmers with aid entitlement. The effect of this on the traditional growers in those countries will be devastating. The effect on the UK pea industry of widespread production in continental Europe supported by de-coupled aid could be terminal. 

Commissioner Fischler is right to introduce de-coupling to reform the CAP. However, he must formulate an appropriate mechanism for compensation that can sustain good agricultural practice without distorting land values. His proposals must also allow farmers to produce a variety of crops including cereals, oil seed rape, vegetables and soft fruit.

I have written to Fischler and DEFRA, with my ideas of how CAP reform should proceed. The MTR issue is also due to be discussed here in the Parliament, where again I will be contributing to the debate.


Farms across Eastern Region could soon be blighted by the sight of dead cattle under Government plans to implement a new law from Brussels on the disposal of animal carcasses, which comes into force 30 April.

Under the proposals, farmers will be banned from burying dead cattle, sheep and pigs on their land, as has always been normal practice, and instead will be forced to pay up to £50 per pig, cow or sheep to have them collected and incinerated. 

The East of England has the largest percentage of pig and poultry farmers in the country, yet no incinerators have been set up in the area to cope

with the thousands of carcasses that will have to be disposed of each year.

In other European Union member states, government-funded collection schemes are in operation, but the British Government has so far refused to pay for its introduction here. With only three weeks left before the ban is introduced, I think it is highly unlikely that special collection vehicles will be available to pick up odd carcasses from rural areas. As these carcasses are likely to remain unburied for weeks, this could cause considerable health risks.

This is yet another example of our own Labour Government signing up to EU legislation without giving proper thought to its implementation. The farming industry approached the Government over 18 months ago, but no plan has been drawn up.  We now face the prospect of a repeat of the fridge mountain saga - only this time it will be much more unpleasant. Your Conservative MEPs are continuing to lobby the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs in London to help with the expense of disposal so that farmers will not be burdened with additional costs.


Please email us at: and register to receive my “In Touch” and other news.







 Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden