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Anderson urges EU negotiators to accept O’Neill Active Farming proposal

29 April, 2013 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Speaking in the EU Parliament today Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson urged EU CAP negotiators to accept ‘active farming’ proposals put forward by Assembly Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill that would address the anomaly of landowners rather than only ‘active farmers’ receiving Farm subsidies.

Martina Anderson said:

“The farm subsidies supplied by the EU through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are a vital element in ensuring that we have food security in Europe and that our farmers and rural communities are protected.

“But for these subsidies to be credible, they need to be directed towards individuals who are 'actively' and productively farming and not accessible by large landowners who simply lease out lands for others to work. These landowners, some of whom are very wealthy individuals such as the Queen of England and the owners of Schipol Airport, are doing nothing to help feed people but are reaping benefits through EU subsidies.

“This is one of the areas still being negotiated in CAP reform negotiations, however thus far a solution has yet to be found.

“Stormont Agriculture Minister, Michelle O'Neill has put forward a solution that gets around the World trade Organisation (WTO) Green Box issues which give rise to this situation. The solution is to apply a simple test which examines an applicant’s production claim in the recent past. For example was a claimant actively farming in 2011 and can s/he produce evidence of such, then they are eligible – if not then they are ineligible.

“This, at a stroke of a pen, would remove all non-farming landowners from the system and ensure that subsidies go to active farmers who are working the land.”

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