10 July 1998

Ex-NFU president says sign up with EMU asap

ENTRY into economic and monetary union must take place as soon as possible to offset increasing pressure on UK farm incomes and consequent restructuring of the industry.

The call came from Welsh Borders farmer and ex-NFU president Sir Simon Gourlay at an AMC breakfast meeting at the Royal Show on Monday. "Profits on my farm were down 50% last year. The depressing thing is that prospects for this year look little better," he said.

The uplands were particularly hard-pressed, he added. "It is almost impossible to generate enough margin to cover financial commitments and living expenses.

"With no firm timetable to join EMU – now less than six months away (in Europe) – the UK is becoming increasingly marginalised. The absence of a decision is hurting agriculture and all export-orientated business. The moment the £ rises, our prices fall.

"The notion that we are going to have to wait to see if it works is crazy. It is quite obvious it is going to be made to work. We should be part of it."

Sir Simon also called for an end to all quotas included in the "non-WTO compatible and short termist" Agenda 2000 proposals. They should be replaced with a simple decoupled area payment to help farmers sustain a sound socio-economic structure. &#42