CAP reforms 'must bring focus back to farming'

The Tenant Farmers Association’s Chief Executive, George Dunn will be speaking at a CAP reform debate organised by the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester and the Cirencester Agricultural Discussion Society on Wednesday evening (23 March) to argue that the next round of Common Agricultural Policy Reform must focus more on ensuring a sustainable future for profitable food production and less on attempting to micro-manage the environment.

"To feed a growing and increasingly demanding world population in a food marketing structure which is stacked against primary producers, subject to price volatility but sensitive to price increases and fickle in terms of sourcing it is essential that the CAP is maintained and improved to deal with the major market failures which exist. We have allowed our focus to be diverted towards the direct supply of what are loosely called "public goods" whilst allowing the core of what we do to become a secondary concern. This must change," said Mr Dunn.

"In the Tenant Farmers Association’s 2020 Vision for Agriculture the TFA set out seven principles for the reform of CAP to provide a balanced approach to the provision of food and environmental security. These principles must underpin the next reform of the CAP in order to avert major problems into the long-term," said Mr Dunn.

The TFA’s seven principles for CAP reform are as follows:

1. Direct payments through Pillar one must continue to form the principal basis of support through the CAP.

2. Measures must be put in place to ensure that support payments go only to active farmers and do not become capitalised into land values.

3. Rates of modulation should be uniform across the European Union.

4. All Member States should be required to have the same level of decoupling.

5. Domestic producers should be protected from imports from non-EU countries using lower environmental and animal welfare standards.

6. Market management instruments should be introduced to assist in managing volatility.

7. Measures should introduced to protect the access of tenant farmers into Pillar 2 schemes.

"The key principle must be to ensure that only active farmers are supported. The extent to which support payments are becoming capitalised into land values through rent must be of concern to policy makers. An even bigger concern is the degree to which land owners with tenants are increasingly able to access funding through both Pillar one and Pillar two by passing on scheme conditions through contracts of tenancy. We do not believe that this is in the spirit of the CAP nor is it in keeping with the the principle to provide support to working farmers" said Mr Dunn.