Lord Stoddart of Swindon – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon on 2016-02-01.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Court of Auditors’ report stating that EU farm projects to improve the environmental sustainability of EU farms are unreasonably costly; and what action they are taking to hold to account those who administer the Common Agricultural Policy.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble

Of the 28 projects reviewed in the four Member States by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), the only ones viewed as cost effective overall were in England. The ECA found that payment rates in England took account of the wider economic benefits to the farmer which might result from making these investments. They also commented favourably about the high level of integration between these capital payments and multiannual land management activities which leads to better outcomes.

However, some projects reviewed in England were found not to be cost effective. We accept that in some cases the standard payment rates to farmers to help improve environmental sustainability may have been too high. We have reviewed our payment rates for the new Countryside Stewardship scheme. These have been independently verified. We will review standard payment rates again in 2017 to ensure that these types of payments are cost effective overall.