Gwilym Jones of the European Commission set out a vigorous defence of the CAP reforms at the Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum in London last week. He claimed that they represented a paradigm shift which would re-link farmers and citizens. It put farmers in greater control of their day-to-day economic choices.
Jones claimed that the greening measures were a game changer. They offered measures which protected soil, water and biodiversity (interestingly there was no reference to climate change.
One positive feature that Jones did draw attention to was that all payments to farms would be published, stating 'we have nothing to hide.' It remains to be seen what this move towards transparency means in practice and how accessible and reliable the data turns out to be.
Jones insisted that farming is different, asking what other industry faced exceptional weather events.
Chris Horseman of Agra Europe asked why decoupling had been put into reverse. Jones disagreed that this was the case, arguing that some sectors worked with very severe conditions, for example mountain areas. But this has always been the case and does not justify an extension of coupling.