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CAP Health Check - Deal Reached

20 November, 2008

Minister, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has commented on this morning's agreement in Brussels on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Health Check.

The Minister said: "I welcome the fact that we now have an agreement on the CAP Health Check which will provide greater policy stability and clarity for our farmers for the coming years. The deal, in my view, produces a broadly positive outcome and is a step in the right direction.

"One of our key goals during these negotiations was to ensure that the overall modulation deductions which will apply to our local farmers will not change from previously planned levels. The increase in compulsory modulation will be balanced by a reduction in our voluntary modulation rates and, therefore, our overall rate will now be much closer to that in the rest of the EU. This I very much welcome.

"Another significant achievement is that we will be able to count existing measures under our Rural Development Programme as addressing the new challenges of climate change, bio-energy, water management and bio-diversity. Consequently, there will be no disruption to our existing Programme."

The Minister continued: "We have seen welcome progress in other areas, such as further decoupling of subsidy schemes from production in the rest of the EU, the abolition of set-aside and some simplification of the Single Farm Payment (SFP) Scheme, including a reduction in the number of types of entitlements. I have also managed to achieve clarification that the new cross compliance requirement for buffer strips can be met by what we are already implementing under our Nitrates Action Plan."

Turning to the dairy sector the Minister said: "I am fully aware that many are concerned about current market conditions, a concern that I share, and some may feel that now is not the best time to increase quota levels. The deal reached increases annual quota levels by 1% for each of the next five years for most Member States. Furthermore, the outcome of the CAP Health Check has sent a clear message that milk quotas will not continue beyond 2015. It is, therefore, critical that the industry uses the remaining time available to prepare for the abolition of quota. However, this overall picture for the diary industry is complex and we will need to carefully consider the implications for the sector.

"I would like to have seen more progress on the simplification agenda. The arrangements relating to the use of unused CAP funds and the National Envelope will need to be explored further. We will, of course, consult with our stakeholders on this and the other elements of the agreement where we have regional choices to make. "

Summing up, the Minister said: "There are significant positives in this deal and we can now progress to the next stage of considering it with our stakeholders and moving on to implementation.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my team of senior DARD officials who were involved in the negotiations and with whom I was in regular contact all day yesterday and throughout the night."

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