Todays decision by Government to modulate CAPat 12 per cent for the next four years is a sensible and pragmatic decisionwhich will help Englands farmers and growers to remain competitive, producemore food and maintain the environment, the NFU has said.
NFU Deputy President Meurig Raymond said: I am delighted that OwenPaterson has decided to keep the rate of modulation below the maximum for thenext four years along with a Government review to be launched in 2016 toconsider the transfer rate from payments in 2018. I appreciate this was not anyeasy decision for the Secretary of State to make but we are pleased that he haslistened to our arguments.
I would like to thank the EFRA Select Committee and many ruralMPs who have supported us in recent days.
The reduced rate of transfer to the Rural Development budget willmean that 224million will be retained in the farming sector over the next fouryears.
This issue has falsely been presented as a fight between farmingand the environment. It is not. Even at nine per cent transfer the NFU hasdemonstrated that we could continue to meet all our on-going commitments toagri-environment programmes and have a surplus to spend on other measures. At12 per cent there will be additional funds available and we will play our fullpart in determining how these might best be spent.
The decision to review the rate from 2018 onwards is the rightone, and one we have consistently pressed for. If by then there are valuableprogrammes in the rural development programme, including the new EnvironmentalLand Management Scheme, and there is clear evidence of demand, the NFU wouldcertainly not oppose an increase in the modulation rate.
Of course, the 12 per cent rate is higher than the current rateof nine per cent and more than most of our closest competitors, but the NFUacknowledges that once the decision had been taken at EU level to reduce theUKs Rural Development budget allocation and once our own Treasury decided toreduce its contribution, it was difficult to avoid some increase in the rate. Imust also express my deep disappointment at the decision by the Welsh AssemblyGovernment to introduce a 15 per cent rate.
The NFU strongly believes that voluntary action by farmers isgenerally a more effective way of meeting specific challenges. For this reasonwe have committed to promoting action that will encourage pollinators andimprove water quality. We have pledged ourselves to ensuring these initiativesproduce positive results.
The NFU is well aware that there was strong pressure from otherparts of government to transferring some of the CAP budget outside the farmingsector to the so called growth agenda. This would have been wrong on manylevels and we are pleased that Owen Paterson has largely resisted this move.
The NFU remains convinced that the CAP Reformagreed in Europe this year was a missed opportunity and a step in the wrongdirection. I am, however, pleased to state that Owen Paterson has made a numberof decisions which have made the best of what was otherwise a bad job. This isthe case for the modulation rate, but also the rolling on the existing paymententitlements, avoiding gold-plating of greening by implementing the standard EUmeasures, minimising distortions by applying scale back at the minimum level,avoiding the capping of payments, and streamlining the system of directpayments by not implementing any of the optional aid schemes in England.
The NFU and Defra have both tried to find analternative to the madness of the 3 crop rule, but unfortunately the EuropeanCommission has resisted attempts to implement an alternative approach thatwould work on the ground. We also look forward to continuing discussions withDefra to ensure that farmers farming in the moorland regions of England aretreated fairly.