Doesn’t it sound dull? Pillar 2? CAP? But it’s about the life in our countryside and how our money is spent. The losses of wildlife in the farmed countryside have been huge over my lifetime and I have always seen wildlife-friendly payments to willing farmers as one of the best aspects of the EU. These payments help to keep great bustards in the plains of Spain, skylarks in the fields around me in Northamptonshire and black-tailed godwits in Dutch meadows. So they are worth fighting for, and no wonder the RSPB is asking its members, like me, to write to President Barroso, Commissioner Ciolos and Commissioner Lewandowski.
Defra is issuing a statement saying “The CAP budget needs to decrease very substantially – but cuts should be focused on Pillar 1. We’re concerned by rumours that Pillar 2 may be disproportionately in the firing line. Pillar 2 is better value for money, contributing to economic growth, supporting the environment and agricultural competitiveness, and should have a larger share of a smaller CAP budget.” This is not bad – although it leaves the door open to spend Pillar 2 money on non-environmental aspects.
Think I’ll go out and see whether I can hear a quail that has been singing locally in a field of beans in which I have already invested through my taxes.