The UK’s Vision for CAP

The UK’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has published its report on the UK Government’s “Vision for the Common Agricultural Policy”. The UK’s Vision for CAP was for it to deliver public goods, which included environmental protection and enhancement. The Committee was concerned that there was no agreement on what public benefits should take priority (environmental or rural). They were also concerned that a move towards securing environmental goods and services would not be less expensive than the old system. The Committee wanted the Government to consider how changes to CAP could contribute to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change.

The Committee agreed that the only long-term justification for future expenditure of taxpayers’ money in the agricultural sector is for the provision of public goods. However, they said that payments should represent the most efficient means by which society can purchase the public goods—environmental, rural, social—it wishes to enjoy. For these payments to remain publicly acceptable, it is essential that they relate directly to the public goods provided and that, in turn, these public goods are measurable and capable of evaluation.

The House of Lords Committee is currently holding an inquiry into the same subject. They are taking written evidence up to the 11 June 2007.