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Strong Position Emerging On CAP Reform

10 May 2010

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - The newly elected leader of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, John Thompson, says he is encouraged by early developments in the CAP Reform debate.

The County Antrim dairy farmer has welcomed what he described as ‘the strong and positive’ position on CAP Reform which has been adopted by European farming unions through their representative organisation COPA.

John Thompson said; “The UFU is an active member of COPA and we have been lobbying in Brussels for the past year to help shape COPA’s position on how the CAP post-2013 should be reformed. Volcanic ash travel disruption meant we were unable to attend the final COPA meeting where European farmers views were ratified, but nevertheless we are very pleased that many of our proposals are contained in the COPA position which will now be presented to the European Commission. In particular there is a clear call for retention of Pillar One direct payments to farmers coupled with a strong justification for retaining an adequate CAP budget. This is critical to secure the future viability of our farming businesses”

COPA have highlighted that less than one per cent of total EU expenditure is directed to the CAP and in return it supports 30 million jobs in rural areas, provides food security for Europe’s 500 million consumers and manages over 75 per cent of Europe’s land mass. The UFU says that the positive impact on Northern Ireland’s economy is even greater than the EU average with over 70,000 people employed in the local agri-food sector and 80 per cent of our land managed by farmers.

John Thompson said; “COPA’s policy on CAP Reform presents a strong focus on strengthening farmers position in the supply chain by strengthening producer organisations, establishing codes of practice to protect suppliers from large retailers and supporting an Ombudsman to regulate the food chain. COPA also outline that market support tools will be needed to protect producers from undue price volatility. Support will also be needed specifically for Less Favoured Areas and to provide wider rural services currently delivered through Pillar 2 of the CAP”.

COPA’s position on behalf of European farmers also makes specific reference to: linking support to active farmers, both part-time and full-time and eliminating modulation.

John Thompson added; “A key debate has been around the transition away from ‘historic’ payments to producers. The COPA paper and the paper presented to the European Parliament by George Lyon MEP both propose a significant transition period to allow farmers to adjust to any new system and COPA are also advocating the establishment of objective criteria to ensure CAP funds are allocated fairly. We are encouraged by the direction the debate is taking. A lot of detail still has to be negotiated but the positions now adopted by COPA and by the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee are a solid base on which the UFU believes an outcome to CAP Reform which will protect Northern Ireland farmers livelihoods can be secured”.

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