Countryside Matters 2014 - page 22-23

Countryside
Matters
20
Countryside
Matters
21
farmersmost fear isasituationwhere theyhave tocompete inasinglemarket
withotherEuropeanfarmerswhomightbereceivingahigher levelofpayment.
Another concern ishoweasy itwill be to transfer entitlementswithin thenew
system. Atthemoment,manyfarmersenjoytherelativelysimplicityofupdating
theirSingleFarmPayment formsonlineonanannual basis.Butwhilst farmers
frommostmemberstateswillneedtoestablishtheirentitlementsafreshunder
thenewsystem,English farmersaremore fortunate.Wehavealreadyswitched
froma systemof entitlement basedonhistorical uptake toonebasedonarea
averages,making the transfer processeasier. Elsewhere farmers facegreater
uncertaintyoverthe levelofsupporttheywilleventuallyreceive.
Ofcourse,theCAPnegotiationshavebeentakingplaceagainstadifficultfinancial
backdrop. Remarkably, they started with the assumption by the European
Parliament and, to some extent, theCommission that theywouldbeworking
with the sameamount ofmoneyas before. In truth, government expenditure
in all member states has had to be cut back. As the negotiations progressed
that realitygradually impingedand therehasnowbeena relatively significant
cutof 10percent to 12percent in the total amountofmoneyavailable. So the
paymentswill inevitablybereducedevenbeforeotheradjustmentsaremade.
WhileEurope is forgingaheadwith its futureplans fortheCAP, thereremainsa
questionmarkover theUK’spart in thatcollective future. It isalmost inevitable
thatareferendum liesaheadwhichwilldeterminewhetherweremain intheEU
or choose to standalone. Of course,wedon’t knowwhat theoutcomeof that
referendumwouldbe, but there is a real prospect that UKmaydecide toopt
outof theEU. Ifwedecide to leave, oneof thekeydecisionswhichwould face
thegovernmentwouldbewhether itwouldcontinue tomake thesame levelof
paymenttoourfarmersastheircounterpartsweregetting inothercountries.
Wecouldwellfindourselves inasituationwheretheplayingfield isfarfrom level
–perhaps ifan independentScotlandapplied to join theEUandwasaccepted,
therewouldbeScottishfarmersreceivingthesame levelofpaymentsasbefore
while thegovernment inEnglandandWaleswouldbehighlyunlikely toagree
COMMON AGRICULTURE POLICY
COMMON AGRICULTURE POLICY
– before national top-ups are taken into account. (The UK currently receives
3.65billionperannum inPillar 1 and
342millionperannum inPillar2). The
latestdevelopmentswithinCAPwillnotsignificantlychangethatfigure, though
ruraldevelopmentfundingwillbecutmuchmoreheavilyoverthenextsixyears.
Whatwill change is that someof theprovision for environmentalmatterswill
nowbe included inPillar 1; thatpartof theCAPwhichhasalwaysbeenused for
incomesupport for farmers. Inaddition,SecretaryofStateOwenPatersonhas
recentlyannouncedthathe intendstotransfer12%ofthePillar1funds intoPillar
2,withaviewto increasingthisto 15%from2017.
ThenegotiationsoverchangestoCAPhaveinvolvedanenormouslycomplicated
compromise;the intentionbeingtodesignapolicysuitablefortheverydifferent
member states. Hence, someof themost controversial aspects (including the
‘greening’ ofPillar 1 – seesidebar) areaimedmainlyatnationsother than the
UK. Incertaincases, thesemeasuresmayseem largely irrelevanttoushere; for
example, adrive tostop thecontinuousgrowingofmaizewithnorotation.The
new environmental regulationswill includewidermeasures on crop diversity;
these includea requirement that each farmmust produce twoand for larger
farmsthreedifferentcrops.Again, it isunlikelytopresentaproblemformostUK
farmersexcept inasituationwhere land iscontractfarmed.
Anothernewregulationwillrequire5%ofafarmtobedevotedto‘ecologicalfocus
areas’. Thesearesomewhatdifferent to theold ‘setaside’ areas. Farmerswill be
abletousethese ‘focusareas’ inanumberofways;forgrassorevenenergycrops
but the regulationswill require farmers toprove thatat least thatmuchof their
land isusedforecologicalpurposes iftheirpaymentsaretocontinue.
Inrecentyearsagreaterproportionofsubsidyhasgonetothewealthierfarmers
in theoldermemberstates includingourselves;withmuch lessgoing topoorer
farmers in thenewmemberstates in theEast. Currently, theUKpaymentsare
at justbelowtheEUaverage levelbutthenewproposalswillseeagradualshift
of funds towards countries such as Poland, Romania andBulgaria. I perceive
thatthemainconcerntomostUKfarmers isthatourSingleFarmPaymentsare
notreducedbyagreateramountthanthose inothermemberstates.Thething
Around15yearsago, theCAP
wassplit intotwohalves:
Pillar1hastraditionallybeen
concernedwith incomesupport
for farmers.
Pillar2,ortheRuralDevelopment
Regulation, includes
agri-environmentschemessetup
todeliverenvironmentalbenefits
from farming.
Didyouknow...
France16.5%
Spain14%
UK9.5%
Germany10%
Poland7.5%
Romania7%
Italy6.5%
Ireland3%
Hungary3%
Belgium3%
Portugal2%
Austria2%
Greece2%
Lithuania2%
CzechRepublic2%
Othernewcountries4%
Otheroldcountries6%
Percentage of EU farmland by country
SOURCE:EUROSTAT
1...,2,4-5,6-7,8-9,10-11,12-13,14-15,16-17,18-19,20-21 24-25,26-27,28-29,30-31,32-33,34-35,36-37,38-39,40-41,42-43,...55
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