4 January 2002
Families worry about farming future

By FWi staff

THE governments commission on the future of farming, due to report at the end of this month, may be a damp squib, family farmers have warned.

Michel Hart, chairman of the Small and Family Farms Alliance, said he was sceptical about what the commissions report would achieve.

“The terms of reference have tied it to the governments existing aims of Common Agricultural Policy reform and trade liberalisation,” he said.

“I think we needed a far more fundamental and radical rethink on the future direction of agriculture.”

The commission, chaired by Sir Don Curry, hopes to help create a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming sector after foot-and-mouth.

Sir Don has had a little over six months to produce his report.

Conclusions are being drawn after sifting through nearly 1300 written submissions and listening to oral evidence.

National Farmers Union deputy director general Ian Gardiner said he would be worried if the commission decided to recommend increasing modulation.

It might do this to fund more agri-environmental schemes by reducing the amount of money spent on food-production subsidies.

“In our view, this could seriously damage already fragile farm incomes,” said Mr Gardiner. “It has a direct and immediate impact.”