NFU: CAP Changes to Free Up World Trade

by 5m Editor
16 February 2011, at 9:10am

UK - The UK must get world leaders to open up markets allowing the farming sector to export more and free up world trade, writes ThePoultrySite editor in chief, Chris Harris.

This was a key message from UK Agriculture Secretary, Caroline Spelman, in her address to the National Farmers Union Conference.

Ms Spelman said that the UK backed the European agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos for focusing on climate change and food security as major challenges to the European agriculture sector.

However, she said that the commission's proposals lack foresight and fall short of what is necessary.

She said that agriculture is now coming to the front of negotiations globally and is being seen as a crucial issue in stabilising the global economy and providing food for the growing human population.

For the first time, agriculture is on the agenda for the G20 countries to discuss at their next summit.

Ms Spelman said the government's proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy were both more credible and more deliverable than previous proposals, and she added that subsidies could not be scrapped swiftly.

"We say 'No' to a dogmatic scrapping of subsidies tomorrow. But we say 'Yes' to genuine, enduring reform," she said.

She said the UK wants to see CAP reform that helps farmers become more market-orientated and opens up markets to farmers and rewards farmers for the environmental benefits they deliver.

"This shift now means we can become a major player in the negotiations," said Ms Spelman.

"I'll be working hard for a deal that us fair to farmers, the food industry, taxpayers and the environment."

However, she warned that the CAP budget is going to be smaller.

NFU president, Peter Kendall, said that the British farming community wants to get to a position where they are less reliant on public support.

"We want to be able to compete with efficient operators from elsewhere," he said. "But we're not there yet."

He called on the government to eradicate imbalances of power in the supply chain.

"Ending subsidies won't miraculously make the market work," he said, adding "We recognise the strains that national budgets are under across Europe. It would be foolish to expect the CAP budget not to be re-examined in the light of that."