LEADERS of NFU Cymru travelled to Brussels last week to meet with new European Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, to discuss a variety of issues affecting Welsh agriculture. During the meeting, which was arranged by COPA, and held in the same building as the NFU Cymru European Office, British Agriculture Bureau (BAB), Commissioner Hogan, stressed that simplification of the CAP was a top work priority for 2015.
The Commissioner also recognised the impact that red tape can have on business decisions and that simplification makes for greater competitiveness and increases the potential of agriculture to grow. He also acknowledged that farmers need stability and simplification for the coming years and referred to elements that can be changed within the current policy framework to aid this.
NFU Cymru President, Stephen James, said: “It was heartening to hear that Commissioner Hogan recognises the issues at hand and commits to simplification as a priority. “He stressed that teamwork is essential to delivering this priority and we at NFU Cymru are committed to working with him, and his team, to help deliver the benefits that in turn will help Welsh farmers prosper and deliver food for the future.”
The Russian trade ban and the impact it was currently having on the dairy sector was also discussed and confirmation was made that the Commission had adopted additional market measures,such as prolonging private storage aid and public intervention in order to offer a safety net to help stabilise the market. During the course of the visit to Brussels NFU Cymru also raised a number of other issues including members concerns over the current greening measures and the EC Delegated Act, which makes land with more than 100 trees per hectare ineligible for Basic Payment Scheme. Reference was also made on the progress on Rural Development Programmes across Europe, where the Commissioner stressed the importance role of young farmers in the future of European agriculture.
NFU Cymru Director, John Mercer, said: “This was particularly relevant as our meeting coincided with us hosting the Welsh Junior Agri-academy group who sat in as observers with the Commissioner and heard first-hand of his commitment to help ensure farming remains an attractive career choice. “The role that young farmers play in going forward is vital to Welsh agriculture and it was encouraging to learn of the various support measures that the Commission is proposing, including business start-up aid and knowledge transfer through the European Innovation Partnership. “These meetings illustrate perfectly our lobbying activities within Europe and the importance of having an office at the heart of Brussels.”