The National Farmers Union (NFU) which represents farmers and growers in England and Wales, has warned EU agriculture ministers against the dangers of introducing new distortions and complexities into the Common Agricultural Policy.
Ministers met in Luxembourg on 27-28 October to continue intense negotiations to reform the CAP as part of the ‘Health Check' process.
And although formal agreement is not expected until late November, the talks are expected to crystalise the views of EU member states on some of the key issues such as decoupling of support payments, modulation and milk quotas.
Speaking ahead of the talks in Luxembourg, NFU President Peter Kendall (pictured) warned ministers against a retrenchment into an old style, distortive CAP.
"The NFU was a staunch supporter of the fundamental principles of CAP reforms that were undertaken in 2003. Our sole regret then was that the reform did not go far enough to remove the distortive and complicated elements of the CAP that used to hinder farmers in responding to the market. The health check presents a real opportunity to address this and create a more common, simpler and market focused CAP.
"Wherever they are in the EU, farmers want a straightforward CAP that helps them deal with market fluctuations and rewards them for their efforts in delivering the valuable products society wants. What they do not want is to become once again hostages to both paperwork and the retail sector.
"The new CAP, that encourages farmers to respond to the market, remains the correct policy for EU farmers, enabling them to meet the challenges of food security, and should be championed. But taking a step back towards coupled payments and complexity will only serve to damage the already tarnished reputation of the CAP in the eyes of many taxpayers."