Andrew George MP – CAP reforms will leave British agriculture less competitive
The Liberal Democrat Agriculture Spokesman, Andrew George MP, warned the Agriculture Secretary in the Commons today that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) proposals published by the European Commission yesterday ran the risk of leaving British agriculture less competitive, as he urged the Government to negotiate strongly for a better outcome for farming in the forthcoming negotiations.
Mr George believes that Commissioner Siolos has produced some proposals – particularly to remove payments from hobby farmers, amongst others – which will be helpful. However, he is very critical of many of the core proposals or Mr Siolos’s reforms.
Mr George said that the CAP document appears to suffer from the process of producing a grubby compromise rather than a strategic vision or plan for the future of European agriculture.
“The so-called ‘greening’ of the system of direct payments to farmers are not ‘greening’ at all! The Commission has failed to learn from the failure of past set-aside policy. It would be counterproductive as some famers will be forced to bring virgin land into productivity or intensify their systems on the remaining productive land.
“I note that Commissioner Siolos says that ‘the CAP is what feeds us’…But he’s wrong. It is farmers who produce food not a European policy. This policy is likely to get in the way rather than help. Many aspects of it threaten to undermine the future competitiveness of European and British agriculture.”