Monday, April 19, 2021

East Anglia faces brunt of CAP reform

October 22, 2011 by  
Filed under News & Business

EASTERN region farmers will be among those most affected by Common Agricultural Policy reform, rural leaders have warned.

Proposals to withhold 30% of direct subsidy payments unless 7% of land was taken out of production and maintained as a designated “ecological focus area” were unacceptable, warned the Country Land and Business Association.

“This region makes the most significant contribution to environmental schemes,” said CLA regional director Nicola Currie. “This move will seriously disrupt farmers, especially those in the Entry Level Scheme.”

So-called “greening” would interfere significantly in farming operations for years to come without any obvious environmental gain. Other planned measures would also make it difficult to farm efficiently.

The CLA has slammed plans to cap support to individual farm businesses at £260,000. “This will be highly discriminatory – hitting farms of equal size and payment to a sharply different extent.  It will reverse needed, structural change.”

Attempts by Brussels to ensure that payments go to the right people by coming up with an official definition of an ‘active farmer’ have also come under fire, prompting fears it will lead to more bureaucracy,

“In a region where there are many examples of co-operation and joint farming arrangements it is going to difficult to establish the precise meaning of the term and how it will affect participants.”

Farm leaders have already questioned how such rules would be policed. An NFU spokesman said: “What we don’t want to see are definitions of active farmers that would be a nightmare to enforce.”

The RSPB said the proposals were a let down for wildlife friendly farmers throughout East Anglia, especially those who were doing their bit to create space for nature in the countryside.

The new policy would mean less support for targeted environmental measures on some of the most wildlife-rich farmland in Europe, said Simon Tonkin, RSPB senior conservation officer for eastern England.

“Many inspiring farmers are doing their bit to help farm wildlife in the East and the results are clear to see. However, without vital funds to do this work farmers would not be able to deliver these environmental benefits.”

The proposals confirmed fears of an overall cut in funding for agri environment schemes, said Mr Tonkin. On top of this, countries could be free to re-allocate already overstretched rural development funding away from these schemes.

“The CAP has long been criticised for inefficiency and waste. It would be unbelievable if cuts were targeted at the one part of the policy that is actually delivering for public goods and rural populations.

“If the proposals come to pass it would mean that the EU will fail to get anywhere near its recently adopted biodiversity target, and problems like water pollution and soil erosion would further increase.

Norfolk farmer Ed Cross said: “This is deeply concerning news, it is clear to me that there is still much to do for farm wildlife and that species that are already in decline will only be lost forever if this fund was to be removed.

“On my farm I have seen changes for the better including Lapwings using higher level stewardship areas and we have also been able to take on a young trainee, none of which would have been possible without pillar two funding.”

Suffolk farmer James Bucher, whose 500ha farm is home to a range of wildlife, said: “It is essential that farmers continue to receive support for this work, and if Europe chooses to cut that support then that would be a real disappointment.

“As farmers we have a vital job to do in putting food on the nation’s table – but we are also custodians of the countryside and the Common Agricultural Policy must recognise that.”

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

You must be logged in to post a comment.