Corporate-funded bean-counters and their political allies – more concerned with the production of balance sheets than food – are hoping to ‘reform’ the Common Agricultural Policy which takes 40% of the EU budget and distributes £3.1 billion a year to the UK’s farmers and rural economies.
A DEFRA consultation is now underway, ending on Thursday 28th November. DEFRA ministers and environmental organisations are calling for the current 9% in modulation to be increased to 15% – switched from food production to expand rural development and agri-environment schemes in England.
Some European governments have decided to do the opposite and NFU president Peter Kendall advocates an even administration of funds, creating a level playing field for food producers..
Significantly he also called for the creation of conditions so that farmers can earn a fair income from ‘the market’.
Kendall added that, to date, payments assisting rural development had been spent in questionable ways, including the provision of pantomime costumes for an amateur dramatic society.
Sean Rickard, who controversially describes himself as a respected independent economist, – witness the lavish praises of his students made available on Google images – advocates a ‘dedicated’ environmental and rural development policy – good for the tourism industry.
He spoke about ‘wasting money on farming’ adding that a third of farmers would not survive but for CAP payments – which he said were propping up the inefficient. His approval is reserved for the efficient who produce food on a large scale. Minister George Eustice added that CAP should ‘deliver’ a competitive agriculture – no doubt competing to supply overseas markets and delight commodity speculators..
Elephants in the room & false accounting
No reference was seen to the role of the supermarkets and profits made, often at the expense of primary producers.
And little has been heard from the new adjudicator, who explained recently, in the Farmers Weekly, that she will ‘tread carefully’, adopting a softly, softly approach.
In belittling the small percentage farming directly contributes to GDP, it totally failed to recognise the huge network of suppliers and other services who depend on the custom of the farming sector..
A food security issue
In Farming Today This Week, Charlotte Smith asked if we should just do away with CAP payments altogether and force farmers to stand on their own two feet? Another rhetorical question asked why the farming sector expected support when no other industry did.
David Horton, a Devon dairy farmer, explained that the Single Farm Payment is a safety net keeping food production going despite unforeseen circumstances beyond control, such as severe weather and disease (his cattle were badly affected by Schmallenberg disease earlier this year). It ensures that food production will continue year after year – and is vital to food security..
We add that farming is not just another sector of industry but the all-important sector whose products are essential to survival.