UK farmers stand up for CAP

Related tags European union

The UK National Farmers Union this week slammed a report from Oxfam
on farming and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform
proposals, branding it as inaccurate and one-sided.

The report - 'Spotlight on subsidies'- challenges both reform options proposed by the EU, the single farm payment and the area payment, and hinges on a sample of just seven farmers from across the UK, said the NFU in a statement.

It also fails to mention that the link between production and subsidy will be broken, so that in future farmers in Europe will not be pushed to produce by CAP, added the farmers body.

Speaking this week NFU President Sir Ben Gill said:"The reforms will bring a more market-focused agriculture industry, vast environmental benefits, a fairer trading system that will break down trade barriers, and potentially less bureaucracy."

Reform of the €90 billion CAP - that provides subsidies to Europe's farmers - tabled by the Commission has been criticised for not going far enough. While European Commissioner Franz Fischler set out to bring the farmers in line with the market economy, a watered-down version was eventually accepted by the EU15. In particular France, the largest beneficary of CAP, laid pressure on Brussels to propose a softer version of the reform. But Fischler's single farm payment - 'decoupling' - stayed.

"The reform was, of course, a compromise. From Oxfam's point of view, it didn't go far enough. Farmers could say the same from their viewpoint,"​ said the NFU president.

"The underlying criticism seems to be that it is wrong to spend public money on agriculture when income levels in developing countries are lower than ours. On this basis, the same could be said about any other item of government spending,"​ he added.

Although Fischler had hoped that CAP reform would bring the rich and poor trading states closer, developing countries at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Mexico last September rounded on Europe, criticising the trading bloc for its protectionist stance.

Brazil, South Africa and a host of other developing countries maintain that the high intervention subsidies in Europe are a barrier to trade for products from less developed countries unable to compete at a price level.

But not only this, by propping up an internal market regime Europe can export products at a more competitive price to those same developing countries, damaging trade for industries in their home markets.

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