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CAP vote not good for farmers, environment or consumers

Today’s European Parliament vote on reforming the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy risks taking European farming back to the days of food mountains, doing little to improve the environment or helping farmers react to the market, James Nicholson MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists group agriculture spokesman, warned today.

Today’s European Parliament vote on reforming the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy risks taking European farming back to the days of food mountains, doing little to improve the environment or helping farmers react to the market, James Nicholson MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists group agriculture spokesman, warned today.

Following a marathon two hour voting session, MEPs had agreed some positive aspects:

– no double funding for farmers carrying out green measures;
– reinstatement of rules put in place for the BSE crisis, which were removed by the Agriculture committee;
– ‘Greening’ measures (where some payments are coupled to meeting green obligations) would be voluntary.

However, on a more negative side, MEPs also voted to:

– Keep sugar quotas until 2020;
– allow payments coupled to production in all sectors, including tobacco;
– revert to some aspects of the commission proposal on ‘greening’ getting rid of the ‘menu’ option where farmers could pick which environmental schemes they deliver;
– extend intervention and private storage aid which threaten a return to food mountains
– allow Producer Organisations to extend their rules to non-members.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Nicholson said:

“There were some glimmers of light in an otherwise quite disappointing vote. European farming needs to be encouraged to become more efficient and responsive to consumer demand. In many respects the parliament’s vote will make European farmers less competitive and more reliant on taxpayer subsidy.

“The Common Agricultural Policy was a policy designed for a previous era. The last reform began to gear it towards the modern age but many MEPs seem to want to go back to unjustifiable subsidies and food mountains.

“If today’s vote by MEPs were enacted it would not be a reform of the CAP but a regression back to the excesses of the 1980s.

“Today’s vote was only the beginning of the negotiations towards reaching agreement and clearly we have a long way to go before we can forge a meaningful reform that will encourage more efficient and environmentally-friendly farming fit for the 21st century.”

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