30 November 2001

DEFRA under fire at Crops Conference

CIVIL servants came under repeated attack for failing to help arable farmers.

At the Crops Conference near Cambridge, leading policy analyst Robert Gooch said DEFRAs attempts to phase out farm subsidies were "laughable".

"There needs to be a reform of DEFRAs administration and policies if the current downturn in farm incomes is to be used as the reason for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy," he said.

Requests for a DEFRA representative to speak at the conference were turned down. Conference chairman and NFU president Ben Gill chided the government for failing to recognise that farms need to be profitable before they can deliver sustainability.

A petition was launched at the conference to highlight the problem. Delegates were urged to sign a letter to Margaret Beckett with the message: "Give us profitability and we willll deliver sustainability". &#42

Tree-mendous trimmings… farm manager Neil Maclean of Wasing Estate, Aldermaston, Berks is preparing for a busy few weeks with the farms Christmas tree business. Mr Maclean looks after the trees as well as running all the arable operations on the 1215ha (3000 acre) unit which also has a large shoot.