30 October 1998

Backing will wane

FARMERS who assume that Brussels or the UK government will continue to prop up farming are wrong.

The industry is not going to attract the same levels of support it has enjoyed in the past, David Harvey of Newcastle University, told delegates at this weeks Great North Meet at Scotch Corner.

The EU did not have a big enough budget to support agriculture, and the government would not come up with charity. Prof Harvey said there was likely to be a general downward trend in income which could be earned from farming. But he allayed fears of ranching in the hills and uplands, predicting that land would never be cheap enough to allow that to happen.

Hill farmers should seek to produce regional products and market them in a way which would differentiate them from rival goods. The north of England produced the best beef in the world. It should be marketed not as beef but champagne, he urged.

Prof Harvey added that although big retailers had a stranglehold on food sales, they needed to secure marketing chains. Supermarkets could not allow suppliers to go bust, or they would disappear. &#42