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Modern CAP Needed for Productive Agriculture

by 5m Editor
21 July 2010, at 11:36a.m.

EU - The British NAtional Farmers' Union has called on the European Commission to take farming forwards towards a more competitive, productive and market-orientated future when it draws up its Communication on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy this autumn.

At the end of a major two-day conference on the future of Europe’s agricultural policy, the NFU has warned against taking agriculture and the CAP backwards, based on an outdated vision of the sector.

NFU Head of Economics and International Affairs Tom Hind, who represented the NFU at the conference, said “Over the two days we have heard a lot about the social role of agriculture and how the sector needs to do more to deliver public environmental goods.

"These are important issues to debate but there appeared precious little recognition that farming is first and foremost an economic sector that wants to prosper in the market place.

“We need to get real. EU farmers operate in an increasingly globalised market place and cannot cut themselves off from this. What is more, we have to face up to the reality that the world is going to need a lot more food. European farmers should, indeed must, play their part in this challenge.

"More competitiveness and productivity is essential if farming is to increase production sustainably. Any measures that might harm competitiveness, such as discouraging economies of scale - as some in the audience appeared to advocate - should be resisted. Indeed, it was a concern that some people appear to want to take agriculture backwards to some sort of 19th century cottage industry. Is this really the image we want to promote?

“In his closing speech Commissioner Ciolos stated that he wanted a CAP that is strong, efficient and balanced. We can support this. The Commissioner faces a massive challenge in reconciling the differences of opinion across the European Union.

"In summarising the conference he described seven big challenges the policy has to face from globalisation through to the environment. That two thirds of EU farm income is made up of CAP support is seen by some as a badge of honour.

"For the NFU this statistic is pretty horrifying. As we set out in our CAP policy document, the biggest challenge of all for the CAP is actually to help the farming industry get to a place in the future where it can be substantially less reliant on public support.”