NBA Says Farmers Need Support Beyond 2013

UK - The National Beef Association wants farmers to have as much warning as possible about the level of Single Farm Payment (SFP) they can expect after 2012 when the current support system is expected to end.
calendar icon 28 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

This is because each of the four UK administrations adopted its own method of paying SFP after decoupling was introduced in 2005, and which means it will be difficult to organise a harmonised exit within the UK itself, and uncertainty is increased because there are no guarantees that SFP will be part of the European Commission’s post-2012 agricultural support plans anyway.

“Farmers need to plan ahead but the support structures they face in as little as four years time has still to be decided,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“Back in 2004 the European Commission said it expected to concentrate its buttressing on the Rural Development Programme (RDP) programme which is funded through Pillar Two of the CAP budget and that SFP, which is drawn from Pillar One, would be drastically phased down – if not extinguished completely.”

“However senior EU officials are now hinting that the SFP system will be extended beyond 2012 in the form of a cross-EU flat rate payment and that the RDP, which at UK level is expected to concentrate heavily on environmental support, will be taking a secondary position.”

“And details of how a flat rate system, which will have to include the twelve, cash hungry, and extensively farmed, countries that have joined the EU since decoupling was introduced, will operate are non-existent.”

According to the NBA the formula used to calculate how SFP will be distributed through a flat rate system common to all EU countries could be complicated and is currently expected to favour the EU’s new entrants at the expense of Member States, like the UK, which have established agricultural systems.

“But there will also be problems within the UK when, or if, SFP payment structures are rolled forward and these should be sorted out now so that farmers have prior warning and damage to farm structures inflicted over the 2012-2013 transfer period is minimised,” said Ms Haywood.

“Both the Scottish and Welsh governments pay SFP on a historic basis which means support cheques in these countries have been constant, in euro terms, since 2005 and are expected to continue to be so until 2012.”

“However if SFP payments are suddenly slashed in 2013, or even removed altogether, the drop in support levels would be both precipitous and calamitous because farmers in each of these countries would find it difficult to cope.”

“It has been suggested that SFP reductions in Scotland and Wales could be phased in from 2013 but this would put farmers in England at a disadvantage because they have faced a progressive annual descent to flat rate since it was introduced in 2005 and is due to be completed by 2012.”

“And the hybrid historic and flat rate system of SFP support in Northern Ireland would also require radical adjustment if farmers in Scotland and Wales were protected from a sudden drop in SFP and those in the Province were offered similar safeguards too.”

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