March 8 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Four Norfolk farmers met Defra’s minister George Eustice to highlight concerns about proposals to plough support payments into rural development programmes.
The group from south-west Norfolk including former chairman Bob Young, of Hockwold, told the farming minister Mr Eustice that shifting 15pc of payments – as proposed by Defra - would make the industry less competitive.
Mr Young said that the environment Select Committee had recommended that payments should be moved in phases from 9pc. “Figures from the NFU and from the Efra committee suggest that 9pc may well be sufficient to fund the existing commitments. Another issue is competitiveness – every extra percentage cut in Pillar 1 money going to farms makes us less competitive when compared to our European counterparts,” he added.
The Westminster meeting was organised by South-west Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who added: “I am extremely concerned about land being taken out of food production and I want to make sure our farmers are not disadvantaged compared to other European countries.”
Mr Eustice, said: “I spent ten years working in the farming industry and I want to do my part to help deliver a vibrant and profitable industry in the future.”
However, the NFU has been infuriated by Defra’s decision to impose a maximum 15pc modulation on support payments, as reported by the EDP. Environment secretary Owen Paterson has made the recommendation to a key cabinet committee – just a fortnight after a four-week consultation ended on November 28.
Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers’ Union, said that Defra had pledged that the maximum transfer would only be made if it delivered “worthwhile and valuable outcomes.”
The scale of modulation, which will be applied from the single payment scheme 2014 onwards, must sent to the European Commission by December 31.
“Farmers remain at a complete loss to understand what government intends to use this money on, or how it can be used effectively for the benefit of their businesses.”
In Scotland, payments will be modulated at 9.5pc while Germany has opted for 4.5pc, he added.
“It is profoundly disappointing and infuriating that this government appears committed to increasing the modulation rate with no idea of how the money will be spent. Ministers have totally failed to deliver on their pledge to farmers that such a decision would deliver worthwhile and valuable outcomes,” he said.
A “shoo-before-shooting” policy to control pigeons has been described by a leading Norfolk farmer as “completely bonkers”.