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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the financial impact of the European Commission's decoupling proposals on those farm businesses that have acquired IACS registered land since the end of the reference period now proposed by the Commission. [109837]

It is difficult to predict precisely what the financial impact on such farm businesses will be. However, we are in discussion with the European Commission about possible ways of protecting the interests of such businesses, such as by ensuring that entitlements to the decoupled payment flow to those farming the land on the introduction of the new system. Some producers who have purchased land since the publication of the Commission's proposals will have benefited from lower land prices.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has made to the European Commission about the impact of the Commission's decoupling proposals on people who have entered farming after the proposed reference years. [109838]

The European Commission's proposals include provision for a national reserve of decoupled payment entitlements. The Commission has confirmed that member states can use this reserve to allocate full or enhanced entitlements to producers who have entered farming since the start of the proposed reference period.