Outlook: Farmers not seeking return to subsidy coupling

Any return to coupled subsidy was more likely to benefit processors and retailers than farmers, Tom Hind told delegates to the Outlook Conference 2011.

The National Farmers’ Union corporate affairs director said: “The declince in livestock numbers is down to the removal of the headage payment when the CAP was decoupled from production, but the NFU is not going to go back down that road.”

His comments came following a presentation by Trevor Hanger, operations director with Dunbia, in which Hanger said many farmers were still using their direct payments to support production and highlighted the fall in livestock numbers following decoupling.

Hanger said: “Headage based payments stabilised supply and reduced the amount of additional money needed for farms to remain profitable.”

However, Hind said that processors would like to see headage payment brought back simply to allow them to maintain throughput through the plants.

“Couple support subsidy simply travels down the chain to the benefit of the processors and the retailers, not the farmers.”