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NFU Calls for Reassurance on CAP Delays

12 November 2012

EU - The European Parliament's agriculture committee has delayed an important vote on the CAP until the end of January – prompting the UK National Farmers Union (NFU) to raise concerns of a ‘policy hiatus’ for some farmers in agri-environment schemes.

The NFU estimates that up to 5,000 farmers whose agreements come to an end on December 31 2013 could be affected if a reformed CAP cannot be agreed in time for 1 January 2014.

Many of them are thought to be in "remote and fragile upland areas."

The committee had been due to vote later this month.

Basic arrangements are in place for ‘pillar one’ provisions like the Single Farm Payment to ‘roll on’, should the tightening of the timetable lead to delays into 2014.

But there is currently no such safety net for the ‘pillar two’ rural development element, which includes agri-environment schemes.

We’ve called for immediate reassurances.

The delay has been caused by the record-breaking 7,415 amendments to the Commission’s CAP package, and on-going negations around the EU Budget.

Senior CAP and international affairs adviser Gail Soutar said: “News of CAP delays must prompt the commission into urgent action to safeguard farmers and the environment.

“To be clear, delays are not really a problem for 'pillar one' direct support payments, or the single farm payment. The basic legislation is in place to allow for the current SPS to roll on, on an annual basis.

“However, it is not so straightforward for pillar two; the rural development regulation. The current programme comes to an end on December 31 2013. If there is no new regulation agreed, and no transitional rules are put in place to roll on the current programme, then those farmers will be left stranded.

“Farmers, whose agri-environment commitments come to an end after the December 31 2013 deadline, will have no alternative rural development support schemes to apply for. In essence those farmers will fall into a policy hiatus.

“We need the Commission to take immediate action to provide those affected with reassurances enabling them to plan and make informed decisions for their farm business and to continue in environment schemes if they wish to do so. We know there are more than 5,000 farmers in England alone who are affected. Many are located in remote and fragile upland areas.

“While this latest delay doesn’t necessarily come as any surprise, what it does highlight is the need for the Commission to be realistic in its aims to see a new CAP in place for January 1 2014. This is highly unlikely given the huge task ahead.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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