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Time to Champion the CAP, Says NFU

by 5m Editor
9 July 2010, at 6:38a.m.

UK - On the day that MEPs adopted George Lyon’s report on the future of the CAP, the NFU said it believed the time was right to talk up the benefits of the CAP to society at large.

MEPs voted in favour of the report on the future of the Common Agriculture Policy when they met in Strasbourg today.

Its main themes include fair distribution of the CAP support, the need for competitive agriculture, recognition of the need to tackle market and climatic fluctuations and the preservation of the CAP budget.

The CAP has changed immeasurably over the last 20 years and while negative perceptions still persist, the NFU believes that today’s policy brings significant benefits for European consumers.

We want to see a progressive CAP which is common across Europe and one that maintains our productive capacity in Europe, providing a buffer against the threat posed to farmers by volatile markets, supporting efforts by farmers to become more competitive and providing incentives to improve environmental performance.

NFU Head of Economics and International Affairs Tom Hind said, “Against a backdrop of fiscal austerity, we are more than aware of how the Common Agriculture Policy and its budget is being interpreted in some quarters as a costly, wasteful and damaging policy. An open debate with society about the CAP is healthy, but it needs to be accompanied by an assessment of the numerous benefits the policy delivers for a very small cost to European taxpayers.

“Our consumers rightly expect choice when they shop; safe, fresh, quality produce that is reared to the highest standards of animal health and welfare. But what many don’t realise is that our farming industry, which provides such a diverse harvest, is underpinned by the CAP. Moreover, it is the farmers and growers’ active management of their land which provides us with a patchwork landscape unique to Britain; again this important work is supported through the CAP. Finally, farming has actually maintained rural jobs through the recession, thanks to some extent because of the CAP.

“But above all, the policy ensures that we have access to fresh, local, affordable food.

“For farmers and growers to move from less dependency on the CAP to proper returns from the marketplace we need a constructive, pragmatic approach to reform and better distribution of profits throughout the supply chain.

“The CAP faces huge political and financial pressure, of that there is no doubt, but today’s vote has placed farming at the heart of the CAP. When thinking about future reform we need to remember the benefit CAP brings to people’s everyday lives. I am talking about those farmers for whom CAP support enables them to keep farming the land and us all as consumers who reap the benefits it brings.”