Farming leaders have been left disappointed following the government’s much anticipated decision on how to implement CAP reform in England.
DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett announced to the Commons that the new single farm payment will shift to a flat rate area payment over the next eight years. The move will see the complete decoupling of subsidies from production by January 2005. Only farmers active next year will be eligible for payment.
Beckett said England would split into two regions, with those in severely disadvantaged areas receiving a different flat rate.
“Farmers’ activities will no longer be dictated by what the subsidy regime requires them to produce with all the costs and bureaucracy entailed. This frees them to farm what the market wants,” added Beckett.
The news came as a blow to the National Farmers’ Union, which had pushed for payments to be based on a farmer’s historical receipts. However, president Sir Ben Gill said: “The most important issue is that
payments are decoupled, but we made it clear that the better route was the historic option.”
But he said that the decision to introduce the system over an eight-year period, rather than the five initially suggested, was welcome.
Welsh and Scottish farmers welcomed the news their payments would be paid on an historic basis, announced by both the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive. WA countryside minister, Carwyn Jones, said: “The historic option is the way forward for Wales.”
The decision was applauded by both of the country’s farming unions, as well as the leading co-operative Welsh Lamb and Beef Promotions.
WLBP MD Don Thomas said: “This is the only mechanism that can ensure continuity of support and hence the ongoing financial stability of Welsh livestock farmers.”
NFU Scotland said the change would provide a boost to the Scottish industry.
Ed Bedington