ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (149/08) issued by
The Government News Network on 20 May 2008
Hilary Benn today
welcomed the publication of the proposals for the next stage of
the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.
Commenting as the European Commission published the "CAP
Health Check" proposals he said:
"Good progress has been made in reforming the CAP in recent
years, but much more is needed to boost farm competitiveness,
protect the environment, improve value for money and address
concerns about food prices.
"The Health Check should shift the emphasis of the CAP even
more towards protecting the environment. The UK is encouraging
farmers to manage their land in a more environmentally beneficial
way. We want to see more funding diverted from production
subsidies towards targeted measures which will improve our
landscape and biodiversity. We will be encouraging other member
states to follow our example and offer incentives to farmers to
make environmental improvements".
"The Health Check must also phase out all the price support
measures which have kept consumer prices high and the export
subsidies which have undermined farmers in developing countries.
And it must cut the bureaucracy and remove the market controls and
production linked payments which have hampered the competitiveness
of farmers, so they can respond to the growing global demand for food.
"We will now study the Commission's proposals carefully
and negotiate for the Health Check to advance these aims."
The Health Check is an important step towards the
Government's longer term vision for the CAP, published in
2005, which calls for the end of all direct farm payments by 2015
to 2020, leaving the CAP targeted at the protection of the environment.
Notes for editors
The CAP Health Check is a scheduled review of the major CAP
reforms of 2003. The legislative proposals published by the
Commission today launch six months of negotiations, with the
intention of concluding a deal by the end of the year.
The Government's ambitions for the Health Check include:
1. removing the production linked farm payments which remained
after the 2003 reforms and avoiding the re-introduction of new distortions;
2. further shifting the balance away from farm subsidies towards
measures which protect and enhance the environment;
3. simplifying the bureaucracy associated with the CAP, including
the Single Payment Scheme;
4. simplifying the system of cross-compliance which makes farm
payments dependent on meeting a range of environmental and other
standards, and targeting the system better at delivering key
5. setting a clear timetable for phasing out price support and
market controls including the use of intervention, production
controls and export subsidies;
6. phasing out the milk quota system in a way which provides a
smooth transition for dairy farmers and gives them the certainty
they need to plan their businesses.
7. putting measures in place to capture the key environmental
benefits provided by set-aside;
The Government and the devolved administrations have published
their aims for the Health Check at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/policy/capreform/pdf/caphealthcheck-govresponse.pdf
The Government's longer term vision for the CAP is available at:
The Government will be launching a public consultation on the
Commission's Health Check proposals in June.
Public enquiries 08459 335577;
Press notices are available on
our website http://www.defra.gov.uk
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