The Government is holding a public consultation on how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is implemented in England from 2015. The spending, which will be spread over seven years, represents £20billion of EU subsidies, and has caused controversy over how it should be spread between helping farmers and conservation and wildlife.
Farmers are concerned that their funding will be seriously cut, with 15 per cent of their direct payments now going towards improving the environment, farm competitiveness and boosting economic growth.
President of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Peter Kendall said: “English farmers are already significantly disadvantaged in comparison with their near neighbours in the EU.”
Recently appointed Farming Minister George Eustice said: “The UK ensured that we have choices in how we implement the Common Agricultural Policy, rather than having to work with a one-size-fits-all approach from the European Commission. This gives us flexibility to target funding in ways that will deliver real benefits to the environment, boost the competitiveness of our farming industry and grow the rural economy.”
He added: “It’s vital that the new system is designed with the input of the people whose lives it will affect. That’s why it’s so important that people give us their views on how we can best achieve this.”
The public only has until 28 November to respond to the consultation, which is complex and could lead to significant reforms. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will have their own processes to deal with the CAP.
The four main points of the consultation are: growing the rural economy; improving farm competitiveness and making things simpler; protecting the natural environment and protecting pollinators.
For more information or to respond to the consultation, visit https://consult.defra.gov.uk.