A limit on CAP payments won't safeguard family farms
AN upper limit on direct CAP payments would not safeguard the future of smaller family farms, a meeting of the Family Farmers Association (FFA) was told on Wednesday (October 17).
FFA members speaking at the open meeting in Westminster were vocal in their support for EU proposals to cap subsidies paid out to larger sized farms and landowners.
However, NFU vice president Adam Quinney, told the meeting it was wrong to penalise larger farms.
“We support efficient production so why should we then start disadvantaging some of the larger farms?” he said. “This is not a philosophical thing, it is a per-hectare subsidy. To aid all our farms, it´s more important we receive our fair share of CAP budget. Why should a farmer in Germany receive more than an English farmer per hectare, regardless of size?
“I look at a lot of the family farms in my area and a lot of them have diversified into contracting and other services and are providing those services to very large estates which are talked about being capped. Those estates will simply form smaller businesses. Will that really help smaller family farms who sub-contract work out to them? I don´t think it will,” he said.
The NFU received support from Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning, who said while her organisation supported a ceiling on payments, it would not ‘solve the major problems’ for family farms in the UK.
“Capping is a minor re-distribution in many ways,” she said. “It might make us feel better but it´s not going to make much difference to the average family farmer in terms of the payment they get.”
Cornwall MP Andrew George said he retained an ‘open mind’ on capping payments, but said family farms still needed to survive in the marketplace.
He said: “The CAP can assist the sector as a whole, but it can´t prop it up. If you´re getting increasingly decoupled payments then they have to be able to survive in the harsh commercial environment.
“That is why it is important we have a fair market and fair dealings through the supply chain between farmers and supermarkets.”