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Initial reaction on the CAP vote

Posted: Wednesday 13th March 2013 by TheWildlifeTrustsBlogger

Helen Perkins on today's events in Strasbourg

Today’s vote by MEPs in Strasbourg was not the radical reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) we wanted but it has provided hope that some ‘greening’ will be achieved.

There was support for linking the more than £2.5 billion direct payments to farmers and land managers in the UK to three greening measures – 1) crop diversification, 2) protection for permanent grassland and 3) identification of Ecological Focus Areas - though attempts to further strengthen these measures were rejected.

MEPs also supported measures to protect funding for nature-friendly farming by rejecting double payments for the same environmental activity. All this could not have been achieved without the 86,000 people who participated in the Farming for Nature campaign over the last 10 days. Thank you for all your active and encouraging support! Across Europe over 1 million emails were sent to MEPs, sending a clear message that nature friendly farming is an issue people care about.

Unfortunately, MEPs did not support all the proposals to link CAP payments to compliance with important EU environmental regulation, such as the Water Framework Directive, and protection of carbon rich soils and wetlands. They also rejected support for a dedicated programme for High Nature Value farming systems which was very disappointing. We will provide more detail in the next few days once we have analysed the voting results in full.

Nectar-rich field margin at Worcestershire Wildlife Trust's Lower Smite Farm cpt Zoe Stevens

Attention now shifts to the position of the UK Government on CAP reform. Specifically what Environment Secretary Owen Paterson MP might agree with his fellow Ministers at an EU Council of Ministers meeting next week. We will need to keep up public pressure in the months of negotiation ahead to ensure that the gains achieved today are realised in the final CAP agreement expected in June.

If you want to stay involved in our lobbying of the EU and UK Government on CAP – keep in touch via Twitter and Facebook. We may need your support again soon.

Helen Perkins (Living Landscape Development Manager)

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