Spelman wants farmers standing on ‘own two feet’

DEFRA Secretary Caroline Spelman has criticised the European Commission’s ‘timid’ approach to CAP reform post 2013, arguing it will leave farmers too reliant on production subsidies.

Instead the Defra Secretary has called for a more market orientated approach to help farmers stand on their on their ‘own two feet’.      

Talking at a food security conference in Chatham House, London, Mrs Spelman agreed farmers should continue to receive money for the provision of public goods not rewarded by the market.

But she feared Brussels was driving a future policy which would leave farmers reliant on production subsidies. 

She said: “We need a CAP that will help producers and consumers alike move towards a model where the true cost of producing food is included in its price – one where the industry no longer relies on subsidies for its commercial viability and recognise the economic imperative of environmental sustainability.”

Talks to reform the CAP before its implementation in 2013 began in earnest last month when the European Commission published its initial ideas in the form of a ‘communication’ with a formal proposal due in 2011.

But the Defra Secretary said the Commission was being too timid.

“This timidity goes against the growing tide of ambition to deliver an expert sector which is more market-orientated, more relevant to today’s economy and better able to stand on its own two feet.”

Mrs Spelman was confident farmers would be able to receive their rewards from the market place as global demand pushed prices up.

She said: “Globally, rising populations, growing levels of wealth and changing preferences will clearly increase demand for our exports.

“While in Europe we will increasingly see production split between those states with water and those with a dwindling supply.

“There is significant scope for us to grow our industry in the years ahead.”

And as prices rise she said: “The time will come, I can’t say when, when we probably won’t need subsidies on food production at all.”

She added consumers were already becoming educated about the quality of their food and increasingly ‘prepared to pay the true cost of production’.

Readers' comments (5)

  • stupid, woman every man woman and child in farming wants to stand on their own 2 feet without subsidies but her arse needs to check what supermarkets have done to us before she expects us to show any loyality to this country and god forbid she needs us like they did in our grandparents generation because trust me no war letter i receive will make me do as im told , so good luck darling when you pay my bills you can tell me what to bloody do and trust me your subsidy doesnt pay my cake bill for a couple of months

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  • It's not stupid at all, without subsidy retailers and processors won't be able to pay below the cost of production knowing the state with give farmers their profit (in last weeks FG we had the figures of £3.59bn is 'made' by agriculture, yet the subs bill comes to £3.6bn.). Look what happened to beef prices when Slaughter Premium was started. Some may go out of business without subs but then others will come into the industry as subsidy is a barrier to new entrants - we only got 10% in the first year of SFP because we weren't claiming in the reference period.

    Perhaps if your cake bill is so high, 'Anon', you should see the latest news from EBLEX: http://www.farmersguardian.com/home/livestock/profits-soar-on-green-livestock-farms/36067.article

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  • robert, my cake bill is high because i choose to feed my animals with a quality feed that they deserve not the crap some farmers think will do , also i dont know anyone that will choose this industry because most teenagers that i have given a chance to love the thought of farming but dont want to work at it,

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  • Basing the future of farming upon the whims of your average teenager will always dissappoint you. You have to look at the young farmers who are out there working all hours to struggle to get the capital together to earn meagre masrgins on a farm of their own.

    You don't need to spend a fortune to use high quality feeds, that was the point of the link, However if it pays you well enough there's no need to claim the SFP and really stick two fingers up at DEFRA and their inspections. The biggest and best/most expensive is what most farmers strive for, but that doesn't always produce the best margins, which is the important bit to encourage anyone to work, or even survive, in the industry.

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  • From what i know, subsidies are not for farmers but for the public to all have access to fresh meat....ok take away the subsidies and let the people moan at the REAL price of meat

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