NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK
INVITATION TO BRUSSELS
An invitation from MEP Sir Graham Watson saw a small delegation from Exmoor National Park and the SW Uplands Federation visit Brussels recently to discuss concerns over the future of farm funding with EU officials.
The visiting team comprised Exmoor farmer Robin Milton who is a Member of Exmoor National Park Authority and Chairman of the NFU Upland Board, together with John Waldron of SW Uplands Federation and Dr Nigel Stone, Chief Executive of Exmoor National Park Authority.
One particular aspect of the CAP is recognition that some areas are less favourable for agricultural production because of factors such as climate, altitude, soils and steep slopes. In the past, upland areas like Exmoor have been designated as ‘Less Favoured Areas’ and this has meant that farming has benefited from targeted support in recognition of the relative challenges in farm productivity.
As part of the CAP review, the criteria for indentifying less favoured areas has changed to provide a scheme that is more consistent between European countries and which meets the condition for farm support set out by the World Trade Organisation. The European Commission has been consulting on the criteria for designation of ‘Areas of Natural Constraint’ (ANC) and the means for setting the boundaries of ANC areas. The current proposals would mean that the particular challenges of farming in Exmoor and other uplands of the South West continue to be recognised, but there is great concern over exactly where the boundary will be drawn.
Sir Graham Watson joined in the discussions and helped to set out local concerns. The meeting provided a good opportunity to develop the understanding of the local impacts of the proposed ANC policies amongst the officials drafting the proposals and was very helpful in considering other opportunities for support to upland farming that CAP provides.
“Whilst a long day, we felt pleased that we had a good hearing and are very grateful for Sir Graham’s support,” said Dr Nigel Stone after the visit. “We have also made some useful contacts in the Commission to take up any future concerns over the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy on farming in Exmoor and the uplands of the South West.”
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