Plenty for British MEPs to fight for in CAP reform debates
British MEPs must fight for a simple, fair, competitive and productive Common Agricultural Policy when they take part in a crucial and historic vote on the future of EU farm policy today.
That is the plea from the NFU, whose deputy president, Meurig Raymond, is in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament's 754 members will vote on a range of measures that will shape the Parliament's position as part of final stages of CAP reform negotiations.
Mr Raymond, who will this morning meet the MEPs at the forefront of the reform, said: "We are having one last push ahead of Parliament's vote to make sure MEPs lay down the foundations for a future CAP based on our four overriding principles – simplicity, fairness, competitiveness and productivity.
"The starting gun was fired on this CAP reform when the European Commission published a set of entirely unsatisfactory proposals in October 2011. Earlier this year, the European Parliament's agriculture committee made great strides in removing some of the worst elements of the Commission's proposals, but we are asking for an even greater commitment during this vote.
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"We want the MEPs to vote in favour of much of the good work of the agriculture committee, but in addition we need to make bigger strides to reduce unnecessary red tape in the future CAP. We are also urging MEPs to reject the excessive use of trade distorting coupled support payments that unfortunately the majority of agriculture committee MEPs supported, and to minimise the powers that would see the gap in payment levels potentially widen further, leaving UK farmers at a competitive disadvantage were Defra to make use of the powers that it is fighting so hard to gain."
The vote does not yet reflect the final outcome, which is still to be negotiated between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.