Memorandum submitted by the President
of the Ulster Farmers' Union (A67)
For your information, I have attached copies
of Ulster Farmers' Union Papers which outline our initial position
the most immediate major reform issue
facing agriculturethe Mid-Term Review of the Common Agricultural
the delivery of Rural Development
to Northern Ireland Farm Families.
Both of these documents are relevant to this
The key question which must be answered is not
if there should be continued support for agriculture but how
that support is to be delivered. This is particularly crucial
given the general objectives of: competitiveness; quality production;
environmental compatibility; and rural community development.
I trust that this is of use to the Committee's
24 May 2002
CAP MID-TERM REVIEW (MTR)INITIAL UFU
Following an internal UFU meeting
of relevant Central Committee Officeholders held on 1 May, the
UFU agreed the following initial position in relation to the CAP
2. BROAD PRINCIPLES
Northern Ireland's farming industry
continues to experience severe financial difficulties and must
not be disadvantaged further by the Mid-Term Review of the CAP.
The broad thrust of EU livestock
sector support should in future be targeted more at grass-based
grazing production systems.
The main cause of the industry's
difficulties is the Sterling/Euro exchange rate. The UFU continues
to support the release of all-existing available agrimoney compensation
and calls for the re-introduction and operation of the agrimoney
compensation mechanism as part of the MTR until all EU Member
States join the Euro.
3. KEY ISSUES
(a) Pillar I/Pillar II
UFU cannot support the transfer of
funds from Pillar I to Pillar II.
However, if funds are to be transferred,
the mechanism used must be "modulation"and not
"degressivity" or "aid ceiling" introductions.
The acceptance of modulation is conditional
compulsory introduction throughout
the European Union and across all farm sectors and sizes,
compulsory 100 per cent "match"
the funds generated being ring-fenced
within agriculture (the issue of "regional" ring-fencing
needs careful consideration)
the resultant output mechanism
for all future schemes being
- accessible by all farmers
- less bureaucraticin particular, the introduction
of a "single delivery mechanism".
The "delivery" format of
EU agricultural support is the main issue not the level of that
support which must not be decreased.
Degressivity only reduces the level
(d) Aid Payment Ceilings
Would create unacceptable trade distortions
throughout both the European Union and within individual Member
UFU calls on the EU Commission to
strongly defend the exisitng EU agricultural support structures
within the WTO negotiations.
However, if this is to be introduced
then it must be based on "historic" as well as "area"
information to avoid major support redistribution and must also
incorporate an effective "safety net" system to ease
UFU prepared to consider this
Conditional that it is based on "maintenance"
and not "enhancement" of current environment, food quality
and food safety requirements.
4. SECTORAL ISSUES
Opposed to further price cuts (but
if imposed must be fully compensated)would decrease competitiveness
on NI's grass-based and intensive livestock sectors
Want exclusion of maize from Arable
Aid eligibility (alternatively want introduction of "grassland
Support removal of EU arable export
taxes and "non-removal" of import levies
Want support provided for protein
crops (given protein "deficit" for livestock feed)
Undecided about continuation/removal
of "compulsory" set-asideviews to follow on this
and voluntary set-aside
Support revision of "regional
average reference yields"
Support re-examination of "base
must not be detrimental to NI's arable
consideration given to separate maize
and all other crops base areas
Want introduction of support for
"non-food" crops for all producersincluding grassland.
Want clarification on the duration
of 2001 Beef Regime Reforms
reduction in 2nd stage BSP
permanent removal of 90-head limit
removal of minimum SCP heifer requirement
removal of suspension on SC Quota
reduction in siphon on partial SC
Quota transfers to 5 per cent
review of SC Quota "ring-fence"
exclusion of sheep on which SAP claimed
for Extensification Premium livestock count
inclusion of arable forage crops
not receiving Arable Aid in Extensification Premium forage area
reduction in level of livestock scheme
Support retention of milk quota system
Support discussion on options post
Support revision of Dairy Export
Refund Systemmust be more flexible
Undecided on format of "dairy
premium" to be introduced from 2005views to follow.
3 May 2002
DELIVERING RURAL DEVELOPMENT FOR NORTHERN
IRELAND FARM FAMILIES
INITIAL UFU POSITION AND PROPOSALS
(a) As DARD are aware, the Ulster Farmers'
Union have expressed considerable concern about both the confusion
surrounding the definition of Rural Development and the process
in which it is currently being delivered.
(b) We, therefore very much welcome the
Minister's recent announcement to review the communication and
delivery of Rural Development within Northern Ireland. We believe
the following factors certainly give rise to the necessity for
The continuing unacceptable low levels
of Northern Ireland farm incomes which have been consistently
below the National Minimum Wage since its introduction on 1 April
The start of the Mid-Term Review
of the CAP, where considerable debate will be centred round the
transfer of funds from Pillar I to Pillar II and how should this
be achieved and co-financed.
The implementation of Vision.
The English Policy Commission's recommendation
for the introduction of a "single, shallow mechanism"
to be accessible by all farmers.
The confusion between the Rural Development
Plan and Rural Development Programme added to by the complexity
in the latter of the number of schemes, from Leader Plus and Peace
II through to Building Sustainable Prosperity and Interreg III.
(c) In trying to progress this debate constructively,
the UFU have recently travelled to both France and Wales to examine
at first hand how the equivalent funds are delivered in these
regions. While none of these mechanisms are perfect for Northern
Ireland, with some effort they could be tailored to provide Northern
Ireland's own unique mechanism, that truly supports the multifunctional
nature of the Northern Ireland farming community.
The Union's proposals have two basic elements:
(a) A new unique, single, transparent delivery
To recognise, support and enhance
agriculture's unique multi-functional role in Northern Ireland's
economy, environment and society.
To promote a single holistic "one-stop
shop" customer friendly delivery channel which would embrace
the delivery of the Rural Development Plan, the Rural Development
Programme and other external schemes, and could ascertain each
farm family's requirements.
To deliver the products of many current
and future support schemes through this single mechanism.
To be open and transparent, allowing
both the industry and the public at large, to have ownership of
the benefits of a Northern Ireland multi-functional rural environment.
To be accessible to all farmers with
an annual labour use of at least 550 hours regardless of where
they live or whether or not they have specific habitats on their
farm. Enhanced rates of financial support should be given to young
farmers and provision must also be made within the system to
accommodate new entrants.
To be properly funded, in order to
achieve the sustainability, the increased competitiveness and
responsiveness to the market of the industry.
To be phased in over a period of
years, initially absorbing the current plethora of schemes and
finally replacing them.
(ii) The delivery channel would embrace
the three-pillars of multi-functionality:
Enhancement of product quality
eg improvement of genetics, attaining and improving assurance
standards and food safety etc.
Enhancement of bio-security and
disease prevention eg individual electronic identification, disinfection
vehicle baths, fencing of livestock apart to stop disease-spread
value-added opportunities from the food chain, rural tourism,
alternative land uses etc.
Habitat creationeg ponds,
hedges, etc, through woodland grant schemes and other new schemes
Sustaining of habitatseg
looking after existing habitats through Environmental Sensitive
Areas, Countryside Management Schemes and Farm Woodland Premium
Scheme and other new schemes.
repairing and fixing dirty water, silage effluent and slurry facilities
through new capital grant scheme for waste management.
Rural employmenteg support
for maintaining and increasing rural employment.
Succession planning through new
entrant and retirement schemes.
Development of PeopleNew
training and facilitation of continuous professional development.
(iii) Delivery Mechanism
The services incorporated would involve
the provision of support by a facilitator/coach/mentor who would
guide the farmer and his family through the process of:
defining his personal, family
and business objectives;
critically analysing their current
considering their options;
developing a business plan using
a mix of the economic, environmental and social measures identified
to suit their particular needs and objectives.
This entails two basic functions
Communication and facilitation
Needs analysis and monitoring
(iv) Proposals on Delivery
The Ulster Farmers' Union to support
DARD in the communication and facilitation of this mechanism,
by putting in place UFU "facilitators".
Needs analysis and monitoring should
be carried out by DARD's extension service rather than utilising
additional funding for private consultants.
(v) Co-ordinated Approach
Of particular interest to the UFU
from the Welsh experience is the dynamic role of the Welsh Development
Agency. They have facilitated the drawing down of monies from
a multitude of sources and are delivering through one single transparent
mechanism, to the maximum of £75,000, to any one family over
a two-year period.
The Union believes that it is essential
that a similar but refined mechanism is designed and implemented
in Northern Ireland, thus enlarging the pool of money available,
increasing the numbers of farm families who could apply, while
keeping bureaucracy and cost of delivery to a minimum.
(b) The development of a practical "technology
transfer" system to widely disseminate "best practice"
and "innovation" so that farmers can take advantage
of new technology opportunities and respond to market signals
This would be achieved by the establishment
Development Centres which would demonstrate
benchmarking, market intelligence: research and development; and
specific project work. These Development Centres would be established
using the existing research facilities and college based farms
throughout Northern Ireland.
Demonstration/Focus Farms which would
provide for the extension of this technology transfer/best practice
dissemination throughout Northern Ireland through a more commercial
farm business environment.
This document outlines the initial
position and proposals of the Ulster Farmers' Union in the delivery
of rural development to Northern Ireland's farm families.
It is intended that these proposals
give some positive direction on this extremely important subject
and that they form a sound foundation from which further evolution
and development can take place.
The Ulster Farmers' Union would be
happy to meet with DARD to explain these proposals and develop
22 May 2002