Farmers express fear over CAP “greening”

A policy to “green” the common agricultural policy (CAP) subsidy could be heading in the wrong direction and reduce farmer participation in green schemes, according to farming leaders.

Tom Hind, corporate affairs director with the National Farmers’ Union, speaking at the Outlook Conference 2011, organised by Bpex and Eblex, said farmers were worried about proposals to introduce green conditions when it came to direct payment, pillar one of subsidy, to farmers.

He said proposals set out in the current CAP reform could see farmers forced to carry out mandatory “greening” measures, such as introducing permanent pasture, crop diversity, green cover, or ecological set-aside, in order to gain their pillar one payments.

However, he said it was unclear what exactly was meant by mandatory, and expressed concern that any such move would harm farmers ability to compete on a global playing field.

He said forcing farmers to carry out one or more of the options did not allow for more targeted, site-specific approaches and could lead to farmers reducing their involvement in current agri-environmental schemes as a result.

He said the NFU was calling on the EU to ensure any “greening” of pillar one, or direct farm payments, was voluntary and optional.