Clarity concern for UFU following EU Agri Council vote on CAP reform

Thursday, 21 March, 2013

Following the EU Agriculture Council’s agreement of their position on the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) the Ulster Farmers’ Union has expressed its concern that the CAP reform proposals are getting more confusing and complex rather than less.

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; “We have been waiting for the European Parliament and the EU Agriculture Council to agree their negotiating positions on CAP reform for some time now and we had hoped that this would bring some clarity to the overall situation, however, this hasn’t been the case. There are a number of significant compromises being agreed at the EU level that are causing us alarm. Firstly, I am very concerned that the EU will require CAP payments to be directed at active farmers but there is still no clarity on how this will be done. No one has yet come forward with a workable solution and we had hoped that the European Parliament and the Council would have been clearer on this issue. The Council, and the European Parliament, have also taken a step backwards by agreeing to support the transfer of money between pillar 1 and pillar 2, in effect supporting the continuation of modulation.

“I continue to be concerned about the proposals for moving to a flat rate payment by 2019. The options suggested are both complex and confusing but the core driver appears to be to reach a single unit value by 2019. This time frame would not give farmers enough time to adapt their businesses, which would undermine the viability of many farms.

“The Council’s mandate does contain some good points and we will be able to work with those should they be in the final agreed proposals. The Council has supported the concept of ‘green by definition’, where farmers would be exempt from greening if more than 75% of their farm is grassland. Many farmers in Northern Ireland already fit this definition so the inclusion of this greening measure would be welcome in the final CAP deal. We also welcome the Council’s support for regional flexibility within the UK. Our farming counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales will have different needs when it comes to rolling out the new CAP and having the flexibility to deal with that will save a few headaches.”

The Council agreeing their mandate signals the start of the next stage of CAP reform. Over the next 10 weeks, discussions will take place between the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, and the EU Agriculture Council as they work to agree a final deal on the CAP by the end of June.
Harry Sinclair concluded; “We are entering a crucial stage of the CAP reform negotiations. The Irish Presidency have set themselves an ambitious timeline to have the final CAP deal agreed by the end of June. In the coming weeks, the UFU will be redoubling its efforts to have our concerns addressed and to ensure the final CAP deal is workable and provides adequate support for Northern Ireland’s farmers.”