Support for family farms will be at least as high as now - the only people who should lose money are the multimillionaires and huge multinationals.
We will scrap the hated EU payments bureaucracy that delays payments and causes great unfairness for family farms
The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is an expensive, wasteful programme that dates back to the 1960s. It is an outdated scheme that increases food bills for consumers and damages African agriculture by imposing punitive tariffs against third world countries.
The CAP was designed to address a 1950s fear of urbanisation when politicians were worried that food production would suffer. Over the last sixty years, it has proven to be extremely ineffective. Originally, payments under the CAP were linked to output, leading to large-scale overproduction. As recently as 2009, the EU was buying thousands of tonnes of unsold butter (at the taxpayers’ expense) leading to media reports of the ‘return of the butter mountain’.
Today, the CAP remains wasteful and does not work well for British farmers who are forced to comply with burdensome laws that drive up their costs. A Government review in 2013 found that the majority of stakeholders consider that ‘CAP remains misdirected, cumbersome, costly and bureaucratic’. The National Farmers’ Union said that EU arrangements were ‘close to impossible’.
The Government is also regularly fined by the European Commission for failing to implement fully EU laws on CAP. These fines are known as ‘disallowances’ and do not have to be approved by a court. Between 2005 and 2015, the UK was subject to £642 million in disallowances. The UK is fined proportionately more than France, Italy, Germany or Spain and the Government ‘expects disallowance to increase’ in the coming years. These wasteful fines could be eliminated entirely if the UK leaves the EU and takes control of how we administer farm subsidies.
The CAP is also very costly to administer due to its very complicated nature. According to the National Audit Office, ‘the costs of administering and controlling the CAP are considerable’, with 4% of the Government’s CAP budget consumed by administration each year. This system is only likely to get worse in the coming years. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that the new CAP will be 15% more expensive to administer than the scheme it replaced.
EU agricultural policies have had a very damaging impact on agriculture in developing countries. Even pro-EU bodies such as the EU-funded Centre for European Reform admit that: ‘EU policies, particularly those on trade, agriculture and fisheries, continue to harm poor countries’, including ‘tariffs and quotas which discourage or exclude produce from developing countries’. The EU employs ‘tariff escalation’, whereby primary products are charged to lower tariffs than manufactured goods, discouraging the development of industry.
British farmers would continue to be supported after we Vote Leave. The UK subsidised its farmers before it joined the EU and would do so after we Vote Leave. Because it pays much more into the EU budget than we get out, Britain would have sufficient funds to continue supporting our farmers - and could even increase funds.
The thousands of badly designed EU regulations that aim to control everything farmers do would go. The rough justice of the "cross compliance regime" would be dismantled. Instead we would have laws designed to work for British farming. At the moment it is not possible to fix the problems farming faces because agriculture policy is controlled by the EU. If we vote to leave and take control, elected Ministers will be able to make the changes needed and put in place new policies to help farmers manage risk, boost their returns and reward the work farming does for the environment.
The farming minister, George Eustice told Farmers at the launch of Farmers for Britain that the UK government will continue to give farmers and the environment as much support - or perhaps even more- as they get now.
The Prime Minister has made that clear and I agree with him. After all, non-EU countries like Switzerland and Norway actually give more support to their farmers than we do. In the scheme of things, the amount of money spent on our countryside and wildlife is very modest when compared with spending on other departments. But we could spend our money more effectively if we had control.
Outside the EU, the UK would also take back control of the regulation of agriculture, including of pesticides and genetically modified organisms. The EU’s attitudes to these issues has caused major companies such as BASF to move out of the EU to the United States.
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has also been extremely wasteful, has not protected Europe’s fish stocks and has resulted in millions of fish being dumped. This is unacceptable and has had a devastating impact on the environment. British politicians have promised for decades to end this unethical and expensive policy, but have not delivered on their promises.
The opening up of British waters to EU in the 1970s had a devastating effect on the UK’s fishing industry. Fishing from other member states soon started on an industrial scale - and this continues up to the present day. The media reported recently that one Dutch trawler takes one quarter of England’s entire fish quota. In 1973, there were 23,476 fishermen in the UK - in 2014, there were 11,845 fishermen in the UK.
Every year, the European Commission proposes a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for each commercial species for each area within the EU 200 mile limit. Each TAC is then divided into national quotas. In the 1970s, UK fleets concentrated upon fishing in waters around Iceland. They were expelled from those waters in 1977 but were not allowed to expel fishermen from other EU states from waters around the UK. This is not fair.
Additionally, a large proportion of subsidies goes to a small number of high investment operations, rather than supporting small-scale fishermen, generating jobs and promoting environmentally friendly fishing methods.
Member states do not all conform to the same standards when enforcing EU rules. The case of Spain, Europe’s biggest fishing nation and the largest recipient of CFP subsidies, is particularly striking. According to Greenpeace ‘The Spanish government has tolerated, even promoted, overfishing and the expansion of its bloated fleet at the expense of sustainability’.
The CFP has, historically, also encouraged ‘dumping’ which has been devastating for sealife. The main problem has been the ‘Total Allowable Catch’ management system. Once a Total Allowable Catch limit is reached by a boat or by a country, it has to stop fishing for that species. Where species live alongside one another, this obviously created difficulties and the standard obligation has been for them to be dumped back overboard, regardless of their chances of surviving.This caused phenomenal damage to British sea life. The European Parliament has also delayed plans to prevent this practice.
When Greenland left the EU in 1985, it secured a free trade deal with the EU that allowed it to sell its fish to the EU tariff-free. Britain is a much larger economy and far more important to the EU - we are certain to secure an even better deal. Last year, we exported £7.5 billion worth of food to the EU but we imported food worth £18 billion. We have an annual trade deficit with the EU in food alone of £10 billion.
The UK would remain a member of organisations such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. The UK could represent itself in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO), rather than being represented by the EU.
Pro-EU campaigners are trying to scare you by saying that we will ‘starve’ if we leave the EU. There is no evidence that anything like this will happen. It is baseless scaremongering. We are net contributors to the EU budget - which means that we can afford to continue to subsidise our farmers outside the Union. Subsidies were provided to British farmers long before we joined the EU and can be provided to farmers after we leave.
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