UFU discuss CAP reform with key players

Monday, 22 April, 2013

In a series of meetings the Ulster Farmers' Union has met with key players in the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reform negotiations to discuss a number of crucial issues that still need to be addressed in order to ensure a workable CAP for Northern Ireland.

UFU President Harry Sinclair and Chief Executive Clarke Black were in Brussels to meet the EU Commission's Chef de Cabinet, while UFU Deputy President Barclay Bell met with UK Agriculture Minister David Heath and UFU Deputy President Ian Marshall and Policy Director Wesley Aston met with Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney.

UFU President Harry Sinclair said; "The June deadline to agree a final CAP deal is fast approaching and we are not wasting any time. The trilogue discussions between the European Parliament, EU Commission and the EU Agriculture Council have started and there are still significant issues from our perspective that have yet to be considered properly. The UFU leadership team have been working hard to bring these issues to the attention of the key players in the CAP reform process.

"Under the new reform, the CAP is meant to be targeted at active farmers, however, we are still lacking clarity about how this will be done effectively. Although, following our meeting with the EU Commission I believe they now have a more solid understanding about the serious impact such a lack of clarity would have on Northern Ireland.

"The European Parliament and the EU Agriculture Council both voted in favour of allowing the transfer of funds between Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 which has caused us alarm. However, there is strong support from the EU Commission that any such transfer must be co-financed by the government.

"The UFU continues to stress that the transition to a flat rate payment needs to be over a longer period of time and on a linear basis. Northern Ireland’s farmers need time to be able to plan their transition in order to maintain their viability.

"Finally, in terms of greening the UFU has been pushing for recognition that many farms in Northern Ireland are grassland and therefore already 'green by definition' and it appears that message has been recognised. Also, several northern EU countries are prioritising the regeneration of grassland by ploughing or reseeding in the greening debate, which could work in our favour.

"Overall our meetings with these key players have been very productive. We are making a strong case for Northern Ireland’s farmers and our voice is being heard. We will continue to work right up until the end of June deadline to ensure our famers’ views are represented and accounted for and that the final CAP deal is workable for Northern Ireland."

The UFU continues its meeting with top officials this week to discuss the CAP reform when UFU President Harry Sinclair and UFU Chief Executive Clarke Black return to Brussels to meet Capoulas Santos, the EU Parliament’s rapporteur on direct payments; and other MEP’s.