Reform Of Common Agricultural Policy Moves Closer

18 December 2007
"More opportunities for Scotland than threats"

SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has welcomed the formal start of the Committee's deliberations on proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Committee today discussed a working document produced by German Christian Democrat Lutz Goepel which will, after amendment, go on to become the formal report of the Committee on the European Commission reform proposals.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Smith said:

"This was an exhaustive meeting, but a good piece of work by our draftsman. I would be confident most of his ideas will move forward and gain support not just within the Committee and the Parliament but with the Commission as well. Clearly we will be putting down some amendments to make it even more suitable for Scotland's economy but we can be pretty happy with his work so far.

"Everyone agrees that the Common Agricultural Policy is not perfect, but reform needs to be handled carefully and the last thing Scotland's farmers, crofters and growers need is more political uncertainty. However I do think that the Committee's ideas will help Scotland's farmers and open doors for our agriculture, so are to be welcomed.

"I will continue to work closely with all Scotland's farming organizations to make sure our voice is heard as these reforms move forward."

The report has a number of highlights for Scots farmers:

  • It explicitly recognises that the Agriculture share of EU spending has already been agreed to fall to 33% by 2013 and rules out any further cuts.
  • Calls upon the European Commission to produce, by 30 June 2011 a livestock plan which particularly takes account of the needs of mountainous, island and less favoured areas.
  • Underlines that set aside is now finished and should not be brought back, and that any environmental advantages from set aside should be continued, but from the environmental budgets. (Paragraph 21)
  • Calls for the abolition of the energy crop premium, which distorts the market and has in any case been made essentially redundant by market price movements.
  • Calls for further simplification and streamlining of EU procedures in administration. (Paragraph 29)
  • Opens a debate on "risk management" and the extent to which multi-hazard insurance schemes should be state funded in order to deal with climate change, epidemics or drastic environmental shifts. (Paragraphs 30-39)
  • Calls for voluntary modulation to be offset against compulsory, and opens a discussion on whether there should be voluntary modulation at all. (Paragraph 40)
  • Calls for an end to the milk quota altogether (Paragraph 51) Emphasises that the future for EU agriculture is based upon quality products and processing, exploiting niche markets and calls upon the European Commission to present as soon as possible a comprehensive plan for the marketing of EU products domestically and abroad through targeted campaigns, bolstering of producer organisations and targeted labelling. (Paragraph 59)