THE UFU Executive Committee met recently in Cookstown to discuss the current major issues being dealt with by the Union. The Executive is the central decision making body for the UFU and is made up of the officebearer team, chair and vice-chairs of each UFU policy, group and county committee, some additional members from county Committees and YFC representation, past presidents and current board members. The Executive Committee meets every month to discuss and debate current issues and agree union policy on farming matters.
The most recent meeting featured discussions on a wide range of matters such as the EU budget, CAP reform and the food supply chain, Highlights included:
This remains the single biggest policy area which the UFU is engaged in. The European Parliament has called on member states to maintain the CAP budget “at least at the level” of the 2007-2013 period and voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution which warned member states not to make cuts to “growth-stimulating policy areas” when they negotiate their final position on the EU’s budget. The EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy proposed to slash more than €80bn off the EC’s 2014-2020 spending plan in draft conclusions ahead of the recent heads of state budget summit and the UK have called for a cut to the budget. While the EU was being discussed at the end of November, UFU president Harry Sinclair attended a COPA meeting in Brussels specifically on this issue. At the meeting he stressed that the maintenance of the CAP budget is absolutely crucial to the CAP reform process and has raised this issue directly with the NI Executive’s office of the First and Deputy First Minister.
The UFU have also been involved in more detailed discussions with some of our local MEP’s as well as the Irish Agriculture Minister. The UFU has also participated in several DARD events on CAP reform and the future of rural development and agri environment schemes and will also be participating in further discussions with COPA and the other UK farming unions on this important matter in the coming weeks. European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has now delayed its vote on CAP reform from November until the end of January but are expected to finalise its consolidated amendments by the end of December.
Food Supply Chain
The UFU continue to lobby for fairness in the supply chain and have highlighted the current issues being faced by farmers in all sectors to the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Agriculture Committee. The UFU are disappointed at the lack of agreement between EU stakeholders from farmers, producer co-ops, processors and retailers on the implementation and enforcement of a code of good practice along the food supply chain. The attention is now turning at an EU level to take the same approach being progressed in the UK through the Groceries Code Adjudicator of enforcing such a code through legislation.
The UK Retailer Adjudicator Bill has now had its second reading in the House of Commons last week and the UFU wrote to all of Northern Ireland’s MPs seeking their support to ensure that this adjudicator will have the ability from the outset to impose fines for breaches of the code rather than the ‘name and shame’ policy currently proposed and also highlighting our disappointment that this presently does not apply to processors/intermediaries. MPs have now been appointed to the Public Bill Committee that will consider the Bill clause by clause and are expected to start work in a couple of weeks.
Other key topics covered at the meeting were: Producer prices, National Parks, planning, Schmallenberg, farm safety, rural crime and energy issues. For more information please contact UFU HQ or your local group office for a copy of the latest policy update.