4 January 2002
Beckett: No subsidy for ‘unwanted goods’

By Tom Allen-Stevens in Oxford

RURAL Affairs Secretary Margaret Beckett has told farmers that they will not be subsidised to produce unwanted goods.

Mrs Beckett told the Oxford Farming Conference that farm support must be directed towards helping the environment and countryside.

She re-iterated policy objectives which encourage farmers to diversify, build closer ties with customers and explore new and alternative crops.

And she re-affirmed her departments objectives to effect a change to the Common Agricultural Policy and move away from direct farm support.

“A second pillar approach, based on regional development programmes within an overall framework, has the potential to deliver greater flexibility.”

There are to be no quick fixes for cash-strapped farmers, Mrs Beckett said, adding that she wanted the industry to “thrive, not just to survive”.

But she withheld views on several issues, saying these were the responsibility of the governments commission on the future of farming.

Mrs Becketts speech, on Friday (4 January), was more conciliatory than had been feared, and she called on farmers to work with government.

“Our resolution this year must be to work together.”

Farmers, marketers, processors and the government must identify common goals and work towards their achievement, she added.

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