Call to scrap EU CAP
CONTROVERSIAL recommendations for the scrapping of the notorious European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to receive the enthusiastic backing of Britain's biggest wildlife charity, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
A major review by a parliamentary select committee is expected to recommend today that the CAP - cause of furious rows between Britain and several other EU members for at least twenty years - should be scrapped.
And the society is calling for this recommendation be carried through as a catalyst for a total overhaul of this "failing farming system" to drag agriculture into the 21st Century.
Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, Head of Countryside Policy at the RSPB said: "The CAP is a dinosaur of a policy that does not recognise the environmental and social needs of the future.
"Water quality is not improving quickly enough and the 2010 targets for farmland wildlife recovery are in danger of being missed.
"This report should herald a new dawn for farming where help for wildlife, the health benefits of countryside visits and tackling climate change are the top priorities. Currently these things are regarded as being nice to have and nothing more."
These recommendations are very much in line with present government policy, which is to exchange farm subsidies from production to environmental improvement projects, but it is likely to meet stiff resistance from both home and overseas.
The government's first attempts to update CAP has led to the total chaos of the Single Farm Payment Scheme, which has been endlessly delayed by incompetence at the Rural Payments Agency, sending thousands of farmers to the point of bankruptcy and causing hundreds of others to quit the industry completely.
Many farmers here in the Yorkshire Dales will also be welcoming the move. They view the CAP as benefiting mainly arable producers whilst hill farms continue to struggle to pay their way.
And the French, who for the best part of half a century were the biggest recipients of CAP subsidies, have already refused to contemplate any reforms until 2011 at the earliest.