The National Beef Association is hoping that resistance by EU Agriculture Ministers to further increases in modulation deductions will help to ease the unduly heavy Single Farm Payment (SFP) off takes currently faced by UK farmers.
It says Ministers in Brussels have signalled that modulation deductions proposed by the European Commission for the CAP Health Check should not rise beyond the five per cent already agreed – which if accepted should mean that modulation off takes for UK farmers after 2009 will at the very least not increase beyond the levels already proposed.
And the Association is also hoping that cross-EU resistance might even result in such a radical overhaul of UK policies, which are currently focussed on heavy incremental increases in the transfer of funds from farmers’ SFP into Rural Develop Programmes (RDPs) up to 2012, that UK modulation rates are reduced to bring them closer to the more modest levels approved by other EU countries.
“Modulation off takes faced by UK farmers are excessive, outdated and unfair because the arguments supporting the massive transfer of funds into the RDP have been overtaken,” explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.
“Efficient food production, combined with good environmental management, is the new priorities now and it is clear that current national agricultural output is not enough to make the UK as comfortable as it should be in food supply terms.”
“While international pressure on the UK to grow more food for itself, and not rely on imports that can be taken directly from the mouths of populations much hungrier than our own, is mounting too.”
According to the NBA the retention of more SFP by farmers will help governments meet their targets because it will not only encourage the financing of adjustments to agricultural management which will allow practiced land managers to continue in business without direct income support from 2013 - but also put them in a better position to improve environmental standards because they use EU funds more effectively than government agencies.
“Much of the SFP taken from farmers through modulation and dispersed through a series of administrative arms into Pillar 2 projects is wasted because it passes through too many salaried hands and the targeting is too general instead of being efficient and specific,” said Mr Burrell.
“Farmers working under cross-compliance rules are the best managers of their land and on top of that a profitable farming system is fundamental to the well being of a prosperous rural economy.”
“If the UK’s modulation deductions are brought down to the levels seen elsewhere in the EU then governments would quickly discover that agricultural output would be greater than it otherwise would be at the same time as there were similar upgrades in environmental management.”
“At the same time local investment in the rural community would progress in line with increases in farm income because farmers have a proven habit of contributing to the management of village halls, the provision of new workshops, and other important areas of rural development.”
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