Smith Hails EU Committee CAP Reform Vote

16 June 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) congratulated Lib Dem MEP George Lyon on a fairly successful vote in the Agriculture Committee on a report initially drafted by Mr Lyon and subjected to a remarkable 700 plus amendments.

The Report goes before the full Parliament plenary in July, marking the end of the initial stage of CAP reform.  It will influence the production, by the European Commission, of a Communication on CAP Reform.

That Communication will be subject to proper scrutiny in the Parliament, via two further reports over the course of 2011/12, the last having actual legislative force, with the final package due to come into force by 2013.
 
Smith said:

"I congratulate George on this report, which considering where it might have gone is not as bad as I had feared it might be.  700 amendments is a huge amount and it cannot have been an easy task making sense of them, though the eventual report is in the main consistent and the attempts by some to cut the budget and dilute the purposes of the policy have been largely resisted.
 
"I remain concerned that the CAP is being saddled with too many objectives at a time when there will be too little budget, but we are where we are.  I was pleased to see a few of our amendments incorporated into the final text, especially our amendment 524 which states that "if the CAP has too many priorities, the limited amount of budget resources available will be over-stretched, and will not achieve effective outcomes, particularly in the field of food production."
 
"Similarly, my amendment 354 to state the primacy of food production in the policy did not gain support, with the Committee instead adopting a rather weaker text with about five different objectives: "believes that agriculture is well placed to make a major contribution to delivering the new EU 2020 Strategy priorities of tackling climate change and creating new jobs through green growth and supplying renewable energy whilst at the same time continuing to provide food security for European consumers by producing safe and high-quality food products."
 
"But on the whole this is a useful starting point, and hopefully will survive plenary relatively unscathed and we can get on with the main event."

Edited highlights of the vote are below:

  • Export refunds to be phased out, but only in cooperation with trading partners. (Compromise Amendment 63)
  • CAP should have adequate market measures to cope with volatility in the markets and provide farmers with a safety net e.g. public and private storage; harvest risk insurance policies; mutualisation funds. (CA 36 and 61)
  • Consideration of European and national ombudsmen to investigate power imbalances in the food supply chain.  Strengthen producer negotiating power. (CA 62)
  • Incentivise sustainable low input farming such as organic farming through CAP money. (CA 59) 
  • Strong statement in support of LFA, for local food production and land maintenance. (CA 58)
  • Direct payments should continue.  These should be dependent on "an absolute requirement for only active agricultural production to be rewarded, through minimum activity requirements." Smith AM included. (CA 48 and 56)
  • Top Up Fund focused solely on carbon sequestration and production of biomass. (CA 57)
  • Two pillar structure maintained. (CA 4 and 55 and 60)
  • Decoupling a firm principle, but allow exceptions for vulnerable sectors and territories. (CA 54)
  • Move to area base for direct payments over next few years. (CA 48 and 51 and 52)
  • Too weak on subsidiarity. (CA 52)
  • CAP should not be renationalised and direct support should continue to be fully EU funded. (CA 47)
  • Budget: "Calls for the amounts allocated to the CAP in the 2013 budget to be at least maintained during the next financial programming period." (CA 45)
  • CAP simplification - outcome agreements, simple contracts, multiannual payments. (CA 44)
  • Investment in agricultural innovation and research needed. (CA 40a)
  • Farmers need a fair and stable return to cover their real costs. (CA 34)
  • EU farmers should be rewarded for producing to the highest standards; imports from 3rd countries should meet the same requirements. (CA 32)
  • Without farming activity continuing across the EU, difficult to provide public goods. (CA 25)