The CAP discussions at Monday’s Council of Ministers in Brussels will be all about dealing with the ups and downs.
On Pillar 1 there’s a policy debate about the special market support measures available in the event of a crisis. These powers already exist in today’s CAP – they were used, for example, when the bottom fell out of the beansprout market after a food safety incident.
In the new proposals the Commission aims to harmonise the approach across product sectors, and to speed up Europe’s response in such circumstances.
Then the Pillar 2 debate will be about risk management within rural development programmes. Member states will have the option of using Pillar 2 funds to subsidise farmers’ insurance premia for crop or livestock insurance, or their contributions to a mutual fund which pays out in a crisis.
At present member states can fund these things by topslicing Single Farm Payment. The new proposals would, for the future, put the measures into Pillar 2 (with no extra funding, so the money would of course have to be deducted from something else in their rural development programmes).
Here in Scotland we haven’t used the risk management measures to date, and I haven’t detected a lot of interest. I have a sneaking suspicion our farm businessmen and women think risk management will be done better if they do it themselves than if government gets involved!
But the option will be open to us, and we’ll see what conclusions the relevant SRDP working group comes up with.