As MP Anne McKintosh, who chairs the environment, food and rural affairs select committee, leaves her political future to be decided by her constituents, we look at her article on EU reforms in the Yorkshire Post earlier this month.
As I travel around my constituency, everywhere I look I see the valuable contribution farming makes to our area.
From the sheep on the hills and the calves being fattened in the Vale of York, to the auction marts in Thirsk and Malton, agriculture plays a key role in our rural economy.
This is what we do and do well in North Yorkshire. Our livestock production ensures a safe and secure source of food while providing jobs and income on the hill farms. It is crucial that the policy-makers in Westminster make sure agriculture receives the support it requires . . .
It is unfortunate, however, that the flexibility afforded to Member States to implement the new CAP does not extend to offering green measures that are an alternative to the impractical crop diversification. The Government must urge the European Commission to reconsider this measure at the earliest opportunity. The decision on what crops to grow must be one for the farmer and dictated by the market not by some arbitrary rule from Brussels.
The reforms also include an active farmer test. The Government must use the active farmer test to make sure that any EU subsidy goes only to people who actually and actively run a farm business, shoulder entrepreneurial risk and are in day-to-day management control of the land they farm.
It is disappointing that the Government wishes to reduce by initially 12% the amount of money that could be available to our farmers.
This is the rate at which the Government wants to transfer funds from the budget which provides direct support to farmers and into the budget for rural development.
Compare this rate with Italy which will not transfer out any funds and France which will transfer just 2%.
Also, the rate in Scotland will be 9.5% and that poses a clear discrepancy between North Yorkshire farmers and their Scottish counterparts.
A larger direct payment budget means farmers can invest more in their operations allowing them to increase their productivity and resilience. Cutting payments to farmers may leave them more vulnerable to shocks such as poor weather and price volatility. I am sure we all remember the heavy snowfall of last winter and its dire consequences for hill farmers . . .
English agriculture has faced many challenges over the last decade from outbreaks of devastating animal diseases, falling farm-gate prices and rising input costs, to the vagaries of weather that has delivered drought, flooding and heavy snowfall. English farmers number among the proudest workers of any industry. It is clear that they would rather do without CAP payments, but the simple truth is that most would not be able to survive constant shocks without them . . .
See her full article: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/debate/columnists/anne-mcintosh-eu-reforms-must-work-to-benefit-uk-farmers-1-6358943, and the Overview of the CAP reform 2014-2020