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    NFU joins farmers’ coalition to fight against CAP changes

    NewsThursday 09 May 2013
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    A farmers’ coalition has been formed including organisations from across Europe, including the National Farmers Union.

    The NFU has joined these organisations from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Belgium in order to fight against CAP proposals which could cause reductions to farmers’ direct payments.

    These proposals are currently being discussed by negotiators from the European Commission, European Parliament and the Agriculture Council. They are proposing this change which will allow member states the opportunity to transfer up to 15% from their pillar one fund and place it into pillar two.

    Pillar one is the fund that is used for direct payments to farmers and they will be moving the money into the fund which is used for paying for rural development projects.

    Joint declarations have been sent to the negotiators from the coalition of farming unions, and more specifically from the three EU institutions that are urging against giving member states unilateral freedom to move money away from direct payments.

    The NFU President Peter Kendall was in Brussels yesterday to meet with advisers to Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş.

    “The free transfer of money from pillar one to pillar two, which would be at the member state’s discretion, would result in grossly unfair competition between farmers across Europe.” Said Mr Kendall

    “We could see the UK moving 15% of its pillar one envelope into pillar two while at the same time other member states will be moving money in the other direction.

    “To stop this we have joined this coalition to ask for any money transferred from pillar one to pillar two to be match-funded by national co-financing. Only then will governments really be forced to weigh up the value of moving money into pillar two.

    “If nothing else the devastating UK winter has proved to us the importance of pillar one payments to farmers. Farmers that have seen their livestock buried alive under snow cannot afford to lose 15% of their direct payments. Moreover they cannot be asked to compete with produce from farmers on the continent who will have retained that money. We need the UK government to commit to giving us a level playing field so that we can compete fairly on the single market.”

    The flexibility to move money between pillars is one of several divisive issues being discussed as the European Commission, European Parliament and Agriculture Council continue with their CAP trilogue meetings. The Irish presidency still hopes to have finalised an agreed CAP text before the end of June.

    Picture courtesy of the NFU.

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