NFU warns against CAP complications

The NFU has warned agriculture ministers against the dangers of introducing new distortions and complexities to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Ministers are due to gather in Luxembourg this week to continue intense negotiations on CAP reform as part of the EU's 'Health Check' process. EU member states will give their views on key issues, including decoupling of support payments and modulation, ahead of the formal agreement expected late November.

Speaking ahead of the talks in Luxembourg, NFU president Peter Kendall warned ministers against a retrenchment into an old-style, distortive CAP.

Kendall said that the NFU was a "staunch supporter" of the fundamental principles of CAP reform, undertaken in 2003, and the organisation's only regret was that the reform did not go far enough to remove the "distortive and complicated" elements of the CAP that used to hinder farmers from responding to market forces.

"The health check presents a real opportunity to address this and create a more common, simpler and market-focused CAP," he said.

"However, amid the supportive rhetoric from various EU member states about the EU Commission's positive proposals, I am getting increasingly concerned about both nervousness and blatant protectionism on the part of some countries, which appear to want to use elements of the proposals, such as Article 68 payments, as a way of turning back the clock.

"Wherever they are in the EU, farmers want a straightforward CAP that helps them deal with market fluctuations and rewards them for their efforts in delivering the valuable products society wants. What they do not want is to become, once again, hostages to both paperwork and the retail sector."

Kendall added that a CAP that encourages farmers to respond to the market will enable farmers to meet the challenges of food security.

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