The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed DARD’s submission to the EU Commission on CAP Reform.
UFU President John Thompson said; “Overall, the UFU is largely supportive of the position taken by DARD, as it is very much in line with our thoughts on CAP reform. This is especially positive given that the UK government has been calling for radical changes to be made to the Common Agriculture Policy.
“I am pleased to see that DARD has recognised the strategic importance of the industry in addressing food security and the continued delivery of public goods, as well as the need to invest in the wider rural economy. However, to deliver on this we need a strong CAP budget that is at least maintained at the current level.
“We have also welcomed DARD’s position that Pillar 1 should primarily be an income support measure and that Pillar 2 should build on what is already in place. ’Greening’ has been a hot topic of conversation in recent weeks and the UFU has argued that Pillar 1 already delivers significant greening in terms of cross compliance measures. DARD’s position is supportive of the UFU’s and we have both urged the EU Commission that any additional greening must be justified, capable of being delivered at minimum cost, coherent with Pillar 2, simple to implement and administer and must not diminish the income support objectives by becoming an overriding concern.”
Overall the UFU and DARD positions on CAP Reform largely support each other and key points of agreement include: budget allocations of Pillar 1 and 2 should be considered in tandem and based on more objective criteria rather than an EU-wide flat rate payment; removal of modulation; regional flexibility for distribution of CAP budget; transitional adjustment period of at least five years; the option of ‘rebasing’ entitlement allocations and providing entitlements to new entrants/young farmers; the option of providing additional vulnerable sectoral, regional and small farmer support; the option for Member States and regions to apply ‘active farmer’ requirement for payments; the retention and flexible implementation of the existing EU market support measures; support for proposals from the EU Commission to address the current supply chain power imbalance; more flexibility within Pillar 2 to address local circumstances; and increased maximum EU expenditure contributions and greater flexibility within national co-financing arrangements across different axes within Pillar 2.
John Thompson continued; “Unfortunately, the UFU and DARD disagree on the issue of ‘capping’ CAP payments. The UFU has always been opposed to the principle of an arbitrary cap at a specific level that could be subject to change in future and we are disappointed that the DARD Minister is still holding firm on this.”