Coupled CAP payments could be re-introduced – McGuinness

The re-introduction of coupled payments could be on the agenda as part of the upcoming review of the CAP, according to MEP Mairead McGuinness.

“It’s a case of striking a balance between what the market is delivering, the impact of the current EU agri support measures and the sustainability, or lack of it, at farm level,” she said.

“I am concerned that the transition to a flat rate Pilar 1 payment system will merely serve to increase land values and rental costs, while doing little for agricultural production.”

“So, I wouldn’t rule out the re-introduction of coupled payments.  But, fundamentally, it’s up to Commissioner Hogan to set the tone of the debate that will take place once the upcoming review of the CAP gets underway.”

McGuinness confirmed that Commissioner Hogan had already laid out his three initial policy priorities.

“These are: the simplification of the CAP; the establishment of a more transparent agri food production chain and a reduction in farm input costs,” she said.

“All of these will be firsts in terms of the agenda followed by an EU Agriculture Commissioner. But above and beyond these issues, Brussels must also tackle the challenge of volatility.

“And this is still very much a work in progress.”

McGuinness said that Commissioner Hogan had already succeeded in upping the profile of agriculture in Brussels.

“This is crucially important in its own right.

There is real pressure on EU budgets at the present time, the refugee crisis being a case in point.

“So it is very important for the Commission as a whole to be made fully aware of the problems now facing the farming sectors.

“And the same principle holds where the tax paying public is concerned. They will be tasked with the role of maintaining a sustainable agri food sector in Europe.

“And this will happen in one of two ways: either the prices paid for food in the shops will rise or the support levels made available to agriculture will increase in line with the requirement to maintain viable farming businesses throughout Europe.

“The mid-term review of the CAP is not formally linked to the setting of EU budgets. However, it will create the mood music around which these key financial decisions are taken.”