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Time to champion the benefits of the CAP says NFU


On the day that MEPs adopted George Lyons report on the future of the CAP, the NFU said it believed the time was right to talk up the benefits of the CAP to society at large.

MEPs voted in favour of the report for the future of the Common Agriculture Policy post 2013, when they met in Strasbourg today. Main themes of the report include fair distribution of the CAP support, the need for competitive agriculture, recognition of the need to tackle market and climatic fluctuations and preservation of the CAP budget.

The CAP has changed immeasurably over the last 20 years and while negative perceptions still persist about the CAP, the NFU believes that todays policy brings significant benefits for European consumers.

NFU Head of Economics and International Affairs Tom Hind said: Against a backdrop of fiscal austerity, we are more than aware of how the Common Agriculture Policy and its budget is being interpreted in some quarters as a costly, wasteful and damaging policy. An open debate with society about the CAP is healthy, but it needs to be accompanied by an assessment of the numerous benefits the policy delivers for a very small cost to European taxpayers.

Our consumers rightly expect choice when they shop; safe, fresh, quality produce that is reared to the highest standards of animal health and welfare. But what many dont realise is that our farming industry, which provides such a diverse harvest, is underpinned by the CAP. Moreover, it is the farmers and growers active management of their land which provides us with a patchwork landscape unique to Britain; again this important work is supported through the CAP. Finally, farming has actually maintained rural jobs through the recession, thanks to some extent because of the CAP.

But above all, the policy ensures that we have access to fresh, local, affordable food.

For farmers and growers to move from less dependency on the CAP to proper returns from the marketplace we need a constructive, pragmatic approach to reform and better distribution of profits throughout the supplychain.

The CAP faces huge political and financial pressure, of that there is no doubt, but todays vote has placed farming at the heart of the CAP. When thinking about future reform we need to remember the benefit CAP brings to peoples everyday lives. I am talking about those farmers for whom CAP support enables them to keep farming the land and us all as consumers who reap the benefits it brings.

1. The NFU wants to see a progressive CAP which is common across Europe and one that

  • maintains our productive capacity in Europe
  • providing a buffer against the threat posed to farmers by volatile markets
  • supporting efforts by farmers to become more competitive
  • providing incentives to improve environmental performance

It is against any renationalised policy through more flexibility to member states or more co-financing of support.

2. A recent Eurobarometer survey of EU consumer attitudes to the CAP, which was conducted among 27,000 people across the 27 member states, found that 83 percent of respondents believed it was important to offer financial support to farmers while 63 percent of those interviewed in the UK felt that CAP support was either adequate or even insufficient.

3. The report adopted today states that

  • That the EU budget must at least be maintained from 2013.
  • Agricultural policy should not be renationalised.
  • Direct payments should be fully funded from the EU budget (and not match funded by Member State governments) in order to prevent internal market distortion.
    Farmers should qualify for a top-up payment to reward their endeavours to mitigate against climate change.
    Distribution of CAP funds should be fair to old and new Member States.
    Food safety, environmental and animal welfare standards should be rewarded and criteria for imports from third countries should match these standards too.
    Clearer information on country of origin is a priority.
    Farmers should be given more power to deal with processors and retailers.
    Rural Development is crucial in order to abate land abandonment and to attract young farmers into the industry.

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