NFU joins European coalition to demand fair treatment

NFU joins European coalition to demand fair treatment

The NFU has joined a coalition of farmers’ organisations from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and Denmark to fight against CAP proposals that could result in significant reductions to farmers’ direct payments.

Negotiators from the European Commission, European Parliament and Agriculture Council are currently discussing proposals to allow member states to transfer up to 15% from their pillar one fund, which is used for direct payments, into pillar two which funds rural development projects.

The coalition of farming unions has sent a joint declaration to all negotiators from the three EU institutions urging against giving member states unilateral freedom to move money away from direct payments.

To further push the case NFU President Peter Kendall was in Brussels yesterday to meet with advisers to Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş.

Mr Kendall said: “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.

“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.”

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