Commission closes private storage aid for pig meat

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Member states this week approved a European Commission proposal to close private storage aid for pig meat.

This measure was introduced on March 9 and since then EU pig meat market prices have stabilised, the commission said.

In the past seven weeks, some 65,000 tonnes of pig meat have been temporarily taken off the market (for three to five months) in 18 different member states. The greatest take-up came in Denmark, Spain and Germany –with smaller volumes also having been stored in Poland, Italy, Netherlands, France and Belgium.

The majority of the cuts covered were boneless cuts (63%). In these circumstances, the commission believes that it is no longer justified to maintain this market intervention, and a proposal to close the scheme was voted on by member state experts this week.

Auditors wary of

‘financial instruments’ in rural development

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has said that there are big obstacles for the new ‘financial instruments’ in rural development.

A recent announcement from Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan and the European Investment Bank was followed last week by an ECA report highlighting the past poor performance of measures in the last rural development programme.

The so-called ‘financial instruments’ are designed to use public money to leverage other funds, developing jobs and driving growth in rural areas. The ECA has however sounded a warning bell, highlighting lessons that need to be learned on how these measures have been used previously, the monitoring that is needed to ensure their success and the processes in place to make sure that new projects do not become over reliant on grants.

UK CAP concerns

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Members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee heard from UK experts on the best way to simplify the new Common Agricultural Policy rules in a hearing on Monday afternoon.

Andrew Elliot, Head of the NI Executive office in Brussels, told MEPs of the need for consistency – arguing that “every year, we get a very large number of very small changes.”

He also singled out the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), questioning whether it had become too complex and too expensive to deliver. Former head of the ‘Future of agricultural support in Scotland’ Inquiry, Brian Pack, also highlighted the many ways which farmers were being over-burdened, adding that simplification would be an ‘ongoing exercise’ and that time was of the essence to put things right.

For their part, MEPs began the meeting by apportioning blame for the mess. Veteran committee member Albert Dess (Germany, European People’s Party) issued an apology to farmers that the committee did not resist more of the complicated reforms during the negotiation process.

Northern Irish MEP Jim Nicholson (Ulster Unionist) reminded the committee that many of the simplifications suggested by MEPs had been opposed by member states in council. He also added: “Genuine simplification cannot be achieved without changing the basic regulation.”