Smith Hails EU Agriculture Budgets Vote

31 August 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today (Tuesday) hailed a boost for the EU's dairy sector, and some other small steps forward in the EU putting money towards ensuring farmers get a fair return on produce.

The Committee voted on the annual budgetary procedure, extending the Dairy Fund by 300 million euro so that it can continue to assist the EU's dairy sector in marketing, restructuring, assistance for deprived areas and research into new products.  Smith backed the increase, arguing that while the Dairy Fund is not the final answer to the problems in the EU's milk market, it is certainly a useful tool to tackle some of the worst impacts.  The Committee backed an increase in the EU school milk budget from 80 million to 90 million euro.
 
The Committee also voted to continue funding for the EU Farm Prices and Margins Observatory which was created, after a succesful campaign by Smith, to compile credible data on the difference between what producers receive for produce and the amount consumers pay.  The budget for the Observatory continues at 1.5 million euros, and while progress on implemtation of the Observatory has been slow, things are finally moving forward.
 
The Committee also backed a further initative: a pilot project based on the ERASMUS student exchange scheme, but for young farmers, to provide the opportunity to experience farming in other parts of the EU; picking up ideas and sharing best practice.  This scheme should be rolled out next year.
 
Smith said:

"All politicians will give you warm words but the proof of the pudding is whether you get any money out of us!  The budget process does not get the attention it deserves, but this is where we actually put numbers to our priorities in order to make them happen.

"So good news for the dairy sector, albeit I suspect it is a silver lining to what remains a muckle big storm cloud but, pending a more structural long-term solution, the fund remains a useful tool.
 
"Similarly, I have been frustrated that the Farm Prices and Margins Observatory has not been implemented as quickly as I would have liked, but it remains a worthwhile venture and I am pleased to see funding continue when there were plenty who wanted to stop it altogether.  If farmers are not making money from the market then there is no amount of other mechanisms that will encourage folk to stay in farming, and the net effect of exporting our food production is potentially catastrophic."

Budget Vote Results

Positive

  • 300m EUR Dairy Fund extended for another year - for restructuring, marketing, assistance for deprived areas, research etc.
  • School Milk Scheme up from 80m EUR to 90m EUR.
  • Aid for beekeeping up from 24m EUR to 32m EUR.
  • European Farm Prices and Margins Observatory renewed at 1.5m EUR.
  • New pilot project on Measures against Speculation in Agricultural Commodities.
  • New pilot project on ERASMUS exchange scheme for young farmers.

Negative

  • All export refunds maintained.
  • 209m EUR more for the wine sector - well above what the European Commission proposed.
  • Beef special premium can still be used for bulls involved in bullfighting.
  • Protein crop premium proposal (to help improve Europe's self sufficiency in feed) defeated.