NFU calls for fair playing field on CAP

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is stepping up its fight to ensure the next CAP allows UK farmers to compete evenly with the rest of Europe.

NFU president Peter Kendall met with leading MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday (20 November) as part of two days of talks, which ended yesterday. In attendance with Kendall were NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond and senior CAP advisor Gail Soutar.

Kendall outlined that the NFU’s main goal was to convince MEPs to deliver a policy that was “common in name and common in nature”.

“As long as British farmers compete within the European single market, it is important we remain part of a common policy framework for agriculture,” Kendall said. “But we are deeply concerned over UK government attempts to insert a tool into the reform package, which would remove 20% of farmers’ direct payments and push it into rural development funds. There would be few, if any, other member states that would make use of that tool, leaving UK farmers at a severe disadvantage.”

According to the NFU, the current direct support levels in England and Wales are below those of its main competitors, such as France, Ireland and Germany. He said it was a must that the position was not made worse and urged MEPs to overturn the measure.

Kendall said: “Related to this point we are asking MEPs to fight for a fairer allocation of EU money for our rural development schemes. The UK currently receives the lowest per-hectare allocation of pillar two funds of all member states, which is an unacceptable position given the scale of our industry.”

If the CAP budget were to be reduced, Kendall said, the Commission’s proposals would also have to be reduced. He added: “The Commission’s proposals will have to be significantly amended. If the budget is reduced, it’s only right that the conditions and costs imposed on farmers should also be reduced. We need a reality check on what we demand from farmers. We need to help them become more competitive, not force them to be more inefficient.”