17 May 1996

Fischler Royal invite anger

By Shelley Wright

EU farm commissioner Franz Fischlers invitation to open this years Royal Show has angered some sections of the industry who want the invitation withdrawn.

Tory MP Anthony Coombs (Wyre Valley) has called in the Commons for the invitation from the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) to be withdrawn "cordially, regretfully, but firmly".

He said many farmers felt outraged that Mr Fischler was opening the show when the EU had shown a less than helpful attitude towards UK agriculture over the BSE crisis and the worldwide export ban on British beef.

East Sussex beef producer Andrew Downey, is furious over the invitation. He said it was ridiculous Mr Fischler should be invited when the UKs beef industry was facing its severest problems in decades and that jobs were being lost.

And Stephen Cabrol of Farnham-based farm machinery company Riko has written to Charles Runge, RASE chief executive saying members of the council who were unwilling to withdraw the invitation should stand down and make way for people who are genuinely willing to support the UK farming industry.

"Our customers are furious about the invitation to Mr Fischler and we will do all we can to put people off attending, in the event that the attendance to the show is lower due to this action then for once I will be happy about it," he warned Mr Runge.

But Mike Ducker, RASE agricultural director said the visit gave the UK farming industry the chance to put its views over.

and it was an important opportunity to aid communication between UK producers and the EU agricultural commissioner.