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’.