Trade deal could see farmers forced out - George Lyon

A Scottish MEP has expressed his concern over plans to compensate farmers affected by trade deals such as Mercosur.

George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, has warned that under the plans, farmers hit by falling prices due to trade deals would not be compensated by increasing direct payments or coupled payments through the CAP.

Instead, they would be offered one off assistance to help them restructure their business or to find another job.

They would also be competing for funding from the European Globalisation Fund with workers made redundant by factory closures.

Speaking during a debate in the European Agriculture Committee, Mr Lyon said: “In 1992, under the McSharry reforms, farmers were compensated for the fall in prices due to the opening of the EU market to imports by the introduction of headage and arable payments on which the current Single Farm Payments are now based.

“When the milk market was liberalised in 2003 and the phasing out of milk quotas was agreed in the Fischler reforms milk producers were compensated through the direct payments.

“Now the Commission is proposing that beef farmers hit by trade deals such as Mercosur would no longer be compensated through the CAP.

“Instead they will be offered access to the Globalisation Fund which will see them competing directly against redundant factory workers for funding for retraining and restructuring of their businesses.

“The reality is that this funding which Commissioner Ciolos claims is part of agriculture spending is nothing more than a political fig leaf to cover up the fact that the CAP has borne the brunt of the cuts proposed by the Commission. 

“The other major concern is that if this proposal is agreed by the European Parliament it will give the trade commission a blank cheque when signing trade deals and it will signal a tacit acceptance of any future trade deal no matter how bad it is for farmers. 

“The agriculture committee should reject this proposal from the Commission and insist that compensation for farmers hit by trade deals should in future continue to be compensated through the Common Agriculture Policy.”

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