8 January 1999

EMUdelays harm farming – Haskins

FARMERS will pay a high price if the government continues to delay a referendum on Britains entry into Economic and Monetary Union, warns Lord Christopher Haskins, chairman of Northern Foods.

"The governments prevarication over monetary union has done serious damage to food producers," he told delegates to the Food and Farming Matters conference at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.

If Britain failed to sign up for monetary union by 2002, food producers and manufacturers would be "in an even more serious position," he added. Shunning EMU would lead to higher interest rates and result in continual currency adjustments and lost market opportunities because of the delay of responding to consumer demand.

Mike Stones

But Lord Haskins noted a growing acceptance in government of the inevitability of joining EMU.

"Its no longer a question of if we join EMU but when," he said. "And when I suggest joining in 2001 theres no longer the forest of protest that there once was."