NFUS Chief Executive Andy Robertson has joined leaders of Europe’s
other farming unions in Brussels to discuss the future of farm support.
At a meeting of COPA, the umbrella body for EU farm unions, the European
Commission today set outs its long-term vision for agricultural support
from 2013 onwards, as well as its goals for the ‘health-check’ of
the Common Agricultural Policy scheduled for next year.
NFUS has already begun its work looking at the future of EU farm support
from 2013 onwards. Today, the Commission stressed that direct support should
remain a cornerstone of the CAP in order to maintain farm structures, secure
the delivery of public goods and reflect the higher standards of production
in the EU compared to global competitors.
Later today, Andy Robertson will meet Klaus Dieter Borchardt, deputy head
of the Agriculture Commissioner’s Cabinet, to stress the importance
of ongoing EU support for Scotland’s farming and rural communities.
NFUS Chief Executive Andy Robertson said:
“The Commission is at pains to stress that they want EU farm unions
engaged now in the discussion on future CAP reform. That process has already
begun in Scotland and the UK.
“We are clear on the short-term goals for next year’s health
check. They include the abolition of set-aside, which has always been at
odds with the ‘freedom to farm’ principle of the 2003 reform.
I was pleased to hear the Commission’s support for such a move. I
will be discussing the detail of that later today with Mr Borchardt.
“His concerns over the capping of agricultural support are shared
by NFUS, although we are acutely conscious that we must be able to justify
the levels of support the industry receives.
“There are also difficult messages for us to consider. Export refunds
will reduce and eventually disappear. Scotland is not a major exporter of
product outwith the EU, however clearly there will be an impact as more
EU produce will remain on our marketplace as a result.
“However, the Commission agrees with our view that there must be
a far greater emphasis within support schemes on improving competitiveness
and helping farmers adapt to subsidy reform.
“It is clear from today’s COPA meeting and from the discussions
we continue to have with Commission officials that support for farming remains
strong. Clearly, the process of reform must be policy-driven and not dictated
by desire to cut budgets. It is a process we must be fully engaged with
now. The decisions at next year’s at the health check, in 2009 when
EU budgets are reviewed and post-2013 will have a huge impact on the Scottish
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