Defra rejects CAP proposals as 'inadequate'

Defra ministers have rejected the EU Agriculture Commissioner’s draft proposals on CAP reform, claiming they are inadequate to make farming more competitive and protect the environment.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman led a delegation of UK ministers to meet Commissioner Dacian Ciolos and express their concerns ahead of today’s negotiations on the proposed reform in Brussels.

Spelman said: “The Commission was right to identify the challenge of food security and climate change, but has failed to respond adequately to the huge opportunities presented by rising prices.”

The UK government wants significant reform of the CAP so that, over the long term, farm production is not reliant on direct subsidies. It also wants farmers to be better rewarded for their contribution to protecting wildlife and the British landscape.

“We remain convinced that the best way to help the environment is through the current system of specific environmental payments to farmers, in return for the public goods they provide, such as encouraging wildlife on their farms,” added Spelman.

“The proposals for the ‘greening’ of direct support payments, which aren’t currently linked to environmental protection, need far more work before they can be effective – and before we could accept them. At best, they would simply reward farmers for what they already do and, at worst, prevent them from becoming more sustainable.”

She added that proposals to take 7% of land out of production were “not sensible” at a time of increasing demand for food, and said the proposals on crop rotation were “far too bureaucratic and inflexible”.

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