PLANS to reduce support for farmers have been criticised.
The National Farmers Union, based in Petersfield, has warned that farmers will be at a competitive disadvantage to their European counterparts under government plans to reduce direct Common Agricultural Policy support.
NFU president Peter Kendall wrote to MPs to express ‘deep concern and frustration’ at reports that ministers want to cut 15 per cent from English farmers’ CAP payments and transfer the money to the rural development programme.
Yet farmers in other member states will see no reduction in direct support.
William White, NFU regional director, from Clanfield, said: ‘Farmers recognise the need for environmental protection and green farming schemes – these areas are already funded through rural development.
‘We have set out detailed costings to government.
‘We believe government can maintain funding for the rural development programme’s agri-environment schemes, and find an additional £1 billion found for new activity, if it sticks with the current rate of transfer, taking just nine per cent away from direct support.
‘By contrast, Defra’s approach appears to be transfer first and spend later.
‘It appears wedded to a 15 per cent transfer with no attempt to explain what the extra money would be spent on and how it would benefit farming businesses.’