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CAP Deal Flexibility Must Not be Used to Make Farmers ‘Uncompetitive'

25 February 2013

UK - The Country Land & Business Association (CLA) has said the deal hammered out by European leaders in Brussels must not be used by the UK government to make British farmers uncompetitive.

CLA President Harry Cotterell said: "Obviously, we need to have the details of the deal confirmed, but it does appear to pave the way for a fair deal for farmers. However, we would work with Defra to discourage the use of the flexibility allowed under this agreement to shift money away from supporting farmers or towards imposing stricter regulations."

Mr Cotterell said: "The provisional deal, which could still be vetoed by the European Parliament, has taken on board a number of key issues on which the Association has been lobbying. We are pleased the European Council appears to have recognised the impact needless regulation can have on farm businesses.

"The CLA particularly welcomes the statements that participation in agri-environment schemes should be treated as at least equivalent in doing good for the environment as the Commission's own specific greening proposals and that the implementation of Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) would not require land to be taken out of production."

The CLA President added: "It is also good that capping of payments has been made voluntary, particularly since the UK Government's position is not to cap."

On the overall size of the CAP budget, Mr Cotterell said: "In our view, this was not really about the total amount of money spent on the CAP. The CLA has always accepted that in the present climate agriculture has to take its share of cuts like every other sector.

"The key issue was to safeguard the competitiveness of UK farming. We cannot have a situation in which mainland European farmers have the benefit of significantly greater levels of support than their equivalents in the UK, or are subject to less onerous environmental standards."

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