Farmers' payment regime put back until January 2015

The European Commission has put back the start date of the new direct payments regime to farmers until January 2015 in light of stalled progress in implementing reform to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The NFU welcomed the announcement. Its senior CAP advisor Gail Soutar said the union was keen not to see a rerun of the "complete fiasco" that accompanied the hasty introduction in the UK of the single farm payment regime in 2005.

Julie Girling MEP, the Conservative Party's spokesman on agriculture and member of the European Parliament's agriculture committee, said there were good reasons why the parliament is in no hurry to pass the commission's proposals, which put greater emphasis on greening measures and have drawn nearly 7,500 amendments.

"People haven't grasped that the European Parliament has an equal legislating role on this," Girling told a seminar earlier this month. "We are not 'holding things up', we are trying to come up with a deal that will work for everyone," she added.

Describing the proposals as "inflexible and unworkable", Girling said: "We are not even close to something that will work well. If it doesn't get voted on and doesn't go through, so be it."

But Defra's director of EU affairs Martin Nesbit responded by saying that "delay causes problems, not clarity, for farmers making business decisions".


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