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NFU President talks productive agriculture with EU Farm Commissioner


The future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was high on the agenda when NFU President Peter Kendall met EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolo? this week.

The pair held discussions during visits to two Oxfordshire farms yesterday morning before the Commissioner spoke at the Oxford Farming Conference. A number of ideas were exchanged on many aspects of the CAP and the opportunities and challenges for commercial farming in the UK.

Mr Kendall was delighted that the Commissioner has taken time out to visit farms in the UK. He said: These are traditional family farms, perhaps operating on a larger scale than some family farms on the continent, but are still the bedrock of farming in the UK. Even these farms, tightly run, using the latest technology, and business focused as they are, are heavily reliant on the single farm payment.

Mr Kendall urged the Commissioner to focus on the supply chain and ensure it was fairer and more balanced so that farmers stand a much better chance of making profitable returns. He cited the dairy industry as an example of where the market is failing primary producers: We are losing too many good dairy farmers. This ought to be a sector that is thriving; instead it is being strangled by the level of undercutting that is happening in the supply chain.

On the question of further greening of the CAP, Mr Kendall made the case for productive farming and warned the Commissioner about the dangers of introducing obligatory measures within Pillar 1 that would require farmers to take land out of production. Farmers on both farms agreed that this would negatively impact their businesses.

On the need for simplicity in any future system, something farm ministers across Europe have stressed in their initial discussions, Mr Kendall had a straightforward message for the Commissioner: Unfortunately, the English experience provides a case-study of how not to implement reform. I would urge the Commission to ensure that, certainly as far as direct payments go, they keep an entitlement-based system as simple as possible. The more layers, the greater the risk of error in delivery on the part of the authorities and the greater the restrictions on dynamic businesses, like the ones weve seen today; that operate under a range of long and short term tenancies and share farming and contracting agreements.

  • The tour included visits to two farms near Oxford. Tenant farmers and NFU members David, Richard and Martin Brown at Woodeaton; NFU members Richard and Chris Cox , who run a mixed livestock/arable operation based around the contract-rearing of cattle for local farmers.
  • Dacian Ciolo? became a European Commissioner, with responsibility for Agriculture and Rural Development, in January 2010.
  • The EU Commission published its Communication on “The CAP towards 2020” on November 18 2010. It is due to present formal legislative proposals in mid-2011, following further discussion of the ideas contained in the Communication. The new regime is scheduled to come into force in 2014.
  • The Commission’s Communication highlights the food security challenge as the first of three strategic challenges facing the EU and stresses the need for EU agriculture to maintain and improve its production capacity.
  • The NFU launched its own policy paper on the CAP after 2013 in May 2010.

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