OFC 2011: Defra’s vision of the CAP is flawed – NFUS
DEFRA’S bid for a ‘fundamental reform’ of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is naïve and flawed according to NFU Scotland.
Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference yesterday (Wednesday, January 5), Caroline Spelman, the Defra Secretary, said rising global demand for food would push food prices up and make it possible to reduce direct support payments, with their eventual abolition.
But NFUS chief executive James Withers said the Defra Secretary was ‘naïve’ and had ignored imbalances in supply chain arrangements and their impact on producers.
He said: “I question whether there is a proper understanding of how the supply chain is operating, and the impact that is having on farms.
“I can sign up to the vision of a farming industry that earns a living solely from the market and not through support payments. But to suggest that rising food prices is paving the way for a quick move towards support removal is naive.”
NFU president Peter Kendall added: “We all want to get to a place where farming in Europe can be less dependent on support but there has to be recognition that this requires a long-term strategy that includes addressing the problems that continue to exist in the market – volatility, global distortions and abusive power in the market place.”
The Defra Secretary did win the backing of CLA president William Worsley who said she was on track to deliver an appropriate CAP to meet global food demand and deliver on biodiversity targets.
However, he urged Mrs Spelman to prove this was the ‘greenest Government ever’ by fighting for the UK’s farmers.
“UK farmers must get a fair share of the CAP budget to remain competitive with our European neighbours and to support both farming and the natural environment,” he said.
Delegate reaction to Defra Secretary Caroline Spelman
Jonathon Deely, arable farmer from Oxfordshire:
“I won’t say which party I vote for but Mrs Spelman seems like a breath of fresh air. I think she gives you direct answers to direct questions and I think she is giving hope to farmers who want to move on.”
John Birnie, runs a meat business in Northern Ireland:
“It was clear that there is more willingness to support the farming industry with this Government. I am more encouraged that things are changing and I think she understands that she needs to build relationships in Europe rather than fight to get what she wants on the CAP.
Paul Acorn, dairy farmer from Northamptonshire:
“I think the Mrs Spelman is treading a dangerous course. We cannot do without subsidies – as she is suggesting – until we are rewarded fairly for our produce, and we, especially dairy farmers, seem a long way off getting rewarded properly for our produce.”
Rob Green, arable farmer from Hampshire:
“Mrs Spelman needs a reality check if she thinks we will support her bid to make everything she touches turns to green.”