from Europe Special Issue - Farming
HELP FOR UK FARMERS
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.
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:-
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.
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
Farmers deprived of their ability to switch crops from vegetables to
cereals will lose their bargaining power with buyers/contractors.
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.
believe that a fair proposal for the MTR of CAP for EU farmers should be as
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden