Chancellor's criticism of CAP is misplaced says NFU

UK - The NFU has accused Chancellor Gordon Brown of shooting at the wrong target in singling out the Common Agricultural Policy for further reform.
calendar icon 7 June 2006
clock icon 3 minute read

Mr Brown will speak at length about his vision for the CAP when he addresses the CBI this evening. The NFU agrees that the European Union needs to meet the challenges of globalisation, but in identifying the CAP as the sole offender he is shooting at the wrong target.

Martin Haworth, director of policy at the NFU, said: “The CAP was radically reformed in 2003; the vast majority of its programmes are now classified as non-trade distorting by the WTO. This contrasts starkly with many of our world trading partners, most notably the USA.

“There is a review of the Reform scheduled for 2008. It is inappropriate for the Chancellor to call for this to be brought forward. Work is already starting behind the scenes to look at further changes, but the 2003 Reform is only now starting to be implemented and it is too soon to be able to have a sound evidence base.”

The NFU believes the implementation of the Reform has been badly mishandled in England. This has not only caused economic difficulties, but has damaged the appetite for further reform amongst farmers, who were almost the only constituency to support reform in 2003. This would have been a more useful object for the Chancellor’s attention.

Mr Haworth said: “Last December the Treasury and Defra produced a joint “Vision for the CAP”. The NFU said at the time that it was more likely to antagonise than persuade our European partners, and so it proved. The same is true of the call now to bring forward further changes. In the NFU’s view, this was designed to attract publicity in this country, rather than to change attitudes in the European Union.”

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