UK makes big shift in agriculture spending

Government cuts price supports in England, raises rural development, organic farming funds

The UK government has announced significant changes in the way the agriculture receives state support in England, becoming one of the first EU countries to exploit changes agreed at European level in the major Agenda 2000 package of reforms to the common agriculture policy (CAP) (ENDS Daily 26 March). Total spending on agriculture in England will rise by 60% over seven years, meaning a total of UK£1.6bn (euros 2.5m), within which first steps will be made to shift spending away from price support. Part of the resources for the extra spending will come under the EU rural development regulation, including a 30% increase in EU funding. There will also be a redirection, or "modulation" of funding into the rural development regulation of direct price supports under the CAP, starting at 2.5% in 2001 and rising in annual stages to 4.5% In 2005. Meanwhile, the government is pledging to match every pound of EU money redirected from price supports with another pound of its own money. Over the seven-year life of the plan, funding for agri-environment schemes is to be set at about UK£1bn, of which half will be spent through a scheme that pays farmers to make environmental improvements and another UK£140m will go to support organic farm conversion.

Follow Up:
UK agriculture ministry, tel: +44 171 270 1500. References: Ministry press release.

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