Finalised CAP deal workable for Northern Ireland

Thursday, 27 June, 2013

Nearly two years after the EU Commission first published its proposals for the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy, a political agreement on a final deal has been reached. Speaking from Brussels, Ulster Farmers’ Union President Harry Sinclair welcomed the progress made over the last four days saying; “A lot of ground has been covered since the beginning of the week in both Luxembourg and Brussels and overall I think we’ve come away with a deal that will work for Northern Ireland. The agri-food sector is at the heart of our local economy and this CAP deal will ensure that our farmers continue to receive vital financial support at a time when the market is failing to deliver.” 

At the start of the reform process the UFU identified a number of issues that, if they had remained as proposed, would have made for a very different deal.

Harry Sinclair continued; “Direct support transition, greening, ploughing, and active farmer have all been big issues for us. We have consistently called for a smoother and longer transition period to a flatter rate payment and that is what we got. Member states will have regional flexibility in terms of the transition period and will be able to go at their own pace so long as by the end of 2019 every entitlement is 60% of the average regional payment. We have also come a long way in terms of the greening proposals. In Northern Ireland, most farms will be exempt from additional greening measures since they will be considered green by definition on account that, for the most part, farms here consist of more than 75% permanent grassland and will have less than 30 hectares of arable land. The ban on the first ploughing of carbon rich soils has also been removed which is extremely welcome news as this would have had a major impact on our traditional farming systems

“The EU Commission, EU Parliament and EU Agriculture Committee have agreed a final deal for all of the broad overarching elements of the CAP deal; however, the agreed position on active farmers doesn’t specifically address our concerns. Jim Nicholson MEP has since obtained a commitment from the EU Agriculture Commissioner Ciolos that he would speak with us in more detail to help resolve the issue. Ciolos reaffirmed this today when I specifically raised it with him directly at an EU COPA meeting.

“We have witnessed history this week, as the CAP reform discussions were the first ever subject to co-decision between the EU Commission, EU Agriculture Ministers and the EU Parliament. The next stage is implementation; however we will have to wait until the more detailed EU legal text is agreed before we start working on this. We still have a long way to go when it comes to knowing what the new CAP will look like in January 2015. We do however, have significant regional flexibility within the EU framework agreed this week and the UFU will be working to ensure that it best delivers for Northern Ireland’s farmers.”