03 July 1998
Cunningham’s job looks secure

DR JACK CUNNINGHAMS position as agriculture minister looks more secure following his recent successes in Europe – with even National Farmers Union leaders admitting he has done a good job there.

During the UKs European Union presidency, when he was head of the EU farm council, he achieved all his objectives. These included progressing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform; negotiating common welfare standards for farm animals; a compromise was struck on imported bananas and the annual price fixing deal has been done.

Progress has also been made on the beef export ban – most important for UK farmers.

The Financial Times says his main achievement has been to turn what he calls the “poisonously awful” relationship with other member-states on agriculture that existed until the election into one of trust.

Dr Cunningham said it would have been all too easy to respond like disgraced England footballer David Beckham when negotiating on the beef ban, but “it wouldnt win us the game”.

However, there are still complaints among Britains farmers that he has not done enough to level the playing field between UK and other European farmers.

Dr Cunningham acknowledged the problems of CAP reform run parallel with the strength of sterling but they had to be dealt with “as best we can”.

  • Financial Times 03/07/98 page 9