Welsh farming as we know it could disappear for good if plans for reducing CAP payments put forward by Caroline Spellman MP, UK Conservative Minister for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, were implemented according to Plaid Cymru candidate for Clwyd South, Mabon ap Gwynfor.
Ms Spellman’s intentions to phase out CAP payments were outlined in a speech she made in Oxford, shortly after the European Commission launched a consultation communication on the future of CAP.
Ms Spellman said: “Rising global demand for food and rising food prices make it possible to reduce subsidies and plan for their abolition.”
Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “We have seen good prices for lamb this winter, but at the same time production costs have increased significantly, so while food prices soar production costs have gone up as well. Price is only one part of the equation, she has completely forgot to consider production costs. It’s worrying that she has no grasp of the reality of food production.
“Caroline Spellman has a seat at the top table of the European Union’s decision making body and she speaks for the whole of the UK’s agriculture sector. Her proposal to phase out CAP payments would devastate the Welsh Agricultural Community.
“The direct payments to our farmers helps secure food production here. We produce some of the finest foods in Europe and our red meat especially is highly sought after. The farming community maintains our countryside and play a vital role in supporting other industries underpinning the rural economy. If the Conservatives had their way all of this would be decimated, and the Welsh countryside would become a souless playground for the rich.
“The average Welsh hill farmer would not be able to survive if the CAP payment was taken away.
“I know that Elin Jones AM, the National Assembly’s Rural Affairs Minister, will fight our corner in discussions with the UK Government. I urge all farmers and those that rely on this vital sector to contact Elin Jones with words of support. We cannot allow the Conservatives to kill off Welsh farming.”
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Statement by Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, AM on the European Commission’s proposal for reforming the CAP:
ELIN JONES GIVES VIEWS ON CAP REFORM PROPOSALS
Wales’ Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones, has given her initial views on the European Commission’s proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
In a statement to the National Assembly for Wales today (Monday 17 January 2011), the Minister welcomed a clear indication from the Commission that direct payments will remain central to the CAP from 2014.
The Minister is firm in her view that there must not be any fundamental change in the underpinning purpose of the CAP to provide income support for farmers, to sustain food production, and to continue to support sustainable land management.
The Minister said: “Under the CAP, the Single Payment Scheme provides some £280 million annually in direct payments to Welsh farmers. The Welsh farming sector would be non-viable without these payments, despite increasing incomes in the industry. I am pleased, therefore, that the EC is proposing to keep direct payments from 2014.
“Detailed proposals are not yet available, making it difficult to give a full response at the moment. However, I am not persuaded by initial proposals for a “greening” payment under Pillar 1 and believe that all but the basic environmental requirements should be delivered via Pillar 2, and Axis 2 of the Rural Development Plan.
“I would like further detail regarding definitions, but I do support the proposal in principle of supporting only “active farmers”.
“To help farmers in Wales adjust to the major change with the SPS moving to an area basis from the current historic regime, I will argue for a transitional period of at least five years.
“I will use the months ahead to play a full role in helping to shape the UK negotiating position, and as part of that process will withstand any attempts to bring direct payments to an end.”
Caroline Spellman’s Comments here.