CAP Health Check and Rising Food Prices

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Mr. Paice: I am sorry to take up a moment or two—I want to check the issue of de minimis. A few moments ago, the Minister said, I think, that the proposal on the table would allow individual member states to set their own level. Can she clarify that? It is not in the papers that we are discussing. In the Commission’s proposals—article 30 on page 45 of the pack—the draft article clearly mentions a minimum of €250 or 1 hectare, with the exceptions of Cyprus and Malta. I am grateful if the Minister is bringing new information to the Committee, but perhaps she could clarify the matter as it is not in front of us.
The evolution of the common agricultural policy has taken major steps in the right direction since 2003—notwithstanding what my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North says—but it still lacks a clear and justifiable long-term goal. I want to see a CAP that underpins a European farming industry which is profitable and competitive in its own right; a policy that helps farming be more sustainable, and rewards farmers who deliver genuine public benefits.
Finally, and most importantly, I want a CAP that gives the developing world a fair chance to compete, helping us to respond collectively to the global challenges of ensuring food security. Food security and sustainable production must go together. My aim is to ensure that our food supplies remain secure and that we have a strong, thriving environmentally sustainable farming industry in this country, which continues to produce a significant proportion of our food. Working with the EU, and other partners, my aim is to meet the challenges of feeding the world, sustaining our natural resources, and tackling climate change. It is a small brief, and I look forward to rising to the challenge of it.
Question put and agreed to.
That the Committee takes note of European Union Documents No. 9656/08 and Addenda 1 and 2 — Draft Council Regulation establishing common rules for direct support schemes for farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy and establishing certain support schemes for farmers, and Draft Council Regulation on modifications to the Common Agricultural Policy by amending 320/2006, 1234/2007, 3/2008 and an unnumbered document relating to the Common Market Organisation for wine, and Draft Council Regulation 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and Draft Council Decision amending Decision 2006/144/EC in the Community strategic guidelines for rural development (programming period 2007 to 2013) and European Union Document No. 9923/08, Commission Communication — Tackling the challenge of rising food prices — Directions for EU action; supports the Government's negotiating aims that the 'Health Check' should cut further the trade and market distorting nature of the CAP, reduce regulatory burdens, give farmers greater control over their business decisions, and direct more public spending towards delivery of targeted public benefits, and considers that the separately proposed measures to tackle rising food prices are adequate and proportionate to the scale of the problem.
Committee rose at ten minutes to Seven o’clock.
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Prepared 21 October 2008