News that EU policymakers had finally thrashed out an agreement on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy last week was greeted in a lukewarm manner both by UK farming and environmental groups.

The new agreement will govern agricultural policy and payments to landowners and farmers in the EU from next year until 2020.

The payments it controls include many wildlife-friendly farming subsidies shoots use to support the flora and fauna under their management.

Under the new agreement, 30% of new direct payments will be dependent on environmental “greening” measures being taken.

Many environmental groups felt this did not go far enough and that the deal failed to live up to the original proposals.

Martin Harper, conservation director at the RSPB, stated: “The deal struck today is likely to be disastrous for wildlife and the environment, and it is a poor use of precious public funding. The final deal has favoured vested interests and let down many of Europe’s most progressive farmers who have been working hard to make space for nature and the environment while producing food.”

Farming groups expressed concern that the UK Government would “gold-plate” greening measures making the process to qualify for subsidies more complicated than necessary, but DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson told Farmers Weekly: “It is laughable that I want to make life difficult for English farmers — I want to make it as simple as I can.”

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Wildlife disaster from European Union CAP reform deal