MPs slate EU CAP proposal

MPs have warned that the ‘one-size fits all’ greening of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is not suitable for the UK and will not deliver the desired outcome of environmental improvement across the EU. It said it was a “missed opportunity” to increase sustainable food production.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) has published a report slating the new greening measures for the CAP as detrimental, saying that the UK’s existing agri-environment schemes are already among the best in Europe at delivering meaningful environmental benefits.

Anne McIntosh MP, EFRA committee chairman, said: “As they currently stand, the Commission’s proposals to green the CAP would hurt UK farmers, consumers and our countryside. They will reduce food security by taking land out of production and are likely to impact badly on our environment.

“It’s a nonsense to think that farmers from Finland to Sicily should be tied to the same narrow prescriptive rules. One-size-fits all regulation cannot work across the range of environments found in Europe.

“To enhance biodiversity and protect the environment farmers across the EU must be able manage their landscapes in ways tailored to local farming methods and ecological concerns. The Commission’s approach will damage the natural environment and farming.”

The report expressed concern that the Commission may be pursuing a greening agenda as a means to justify the continuation of direct payments, rather than to deliver genuine environmental improvements across the EU. It suggested that Defra should continue to push for greater flexibility for member states to adopt a policy that suits them better.

It criticised the proposals on crop diversification saying this would deter livestock farmers from growing fodder and cereal crops to supplement grass feed, which would lead to a reliance of bought-in protein feeds, as well as a loss of biodiversity. It also expressed concern that changing the rules on the past were likely to result in “perverse consequences”, not protecting areas that provide the most environmental benefit and might prove inconsistent in allowing farmers to respond to market signals.

The report said: “The principal purpose of the CAP is to support food production and, in the long term, the goal for the CAP must be delivering sustainable food production. In developing these proposals, the Commission appears not to have considered food security and how ‘greening’ will interact with efficient farm production. In our view, the Commission has missed the opportunity to encourage sustainable intensification of food production.”

>Spelman warns about “peverse consequences” of CAP greening

>EU report agrees CAP is too complicated, says NFU

>Ciolos reassures farmers over CAP


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