Common Agriculture Policy farm subsidy plan unveiled

A cow
Image caption Welsh farmers receive £260m annually from the Common Agricultural Policy

A planned shake-up of the way farmers receive funding from Europe will "destabilise Wales' rural communities", claims a farming leader.

The Common Agriculture Policy (Cap), which aims to protect agriculture by fixing prices and food production levels, subsidises agriculture.

Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) president Emyr Jones said the union had raised its concerns with MEPs.

The European Commission has released plans to reform Cap after 2013.

Welsh farmers receive £260m from the scheme, which makes up 80% of their income, while UK farmers receive a total of £4bn.

FUW president Mr Jones said the Commission's proposals would take land out of agriculture and reduce food production across the European Union, while undermining farming communities across Wales.

He said: "The combined problems of food security and climate change have been described as 'the perfect storm', and the CAP should be seen as a toolkit to address these challenges.

"Yet today's proposals could almost have been aimed at making matters worse and ignoring the fact that we have a framework which was specifically set up to protect people against starvation."

Cap is regarded by some as one of the European Union's most successful policies, and by others as a waste of money.

A series of reforms has been carried out over the years, one of the most significant being the single payment scheme introduced in 2003, which pays farmers for the amount of land they have.

Included in the proposals to reform Cap are plans to dedicate 30% of farmers' direct payments so they adopt a more greener attitude towards agriculture.

There are proposals for additional investment in research and innovation to ensure closer cooperation between the agricultural industry and the scientific community, and more encouragement for agri-environmental initiatives.

Important time

There are also plans to fund young farmers under 40 setting up in business.

In reaction to the plans, National Farmers' Union Cymru president Ed Bailey said: "In short, we require a common, market focussed policy that supports the production of quality food.

"I am afraid that these proposals, as they currently stand, fail on all three accounts.

"For Welsh farmers I am particularly concerned at the scale and speed at which we are expected to move from our current historic basis of delivery of the Single Payment Scheme to a new scheme based on areas."

Speaking ahead of an announcement by the European Commission, Deputy Agriculture Minister Alun Davies said it was an important time for farming.

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