FOCUSING ON quality food production and persuading consumer to pay more for it are the keys to farmer survival, according to new farm commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel.

“I see a future for EU agriculture, but is important that you deliver high quality, added value products,” she told FARMERS WEEKLY in an exclusive interview.

“On bulk commodities we cannot compete with Brazil, which has said it wants to feed the world.”

Mrs Fischer Boel said she was confident consumers could be persuaded to pay more for quality.

She pointed towards the increasing number of shoppers in her home country of Denmark who were buying direct from farmers.

EU funds were also available under the rural development measures to help farmers promote and market their wares, she said.

On sugar reform, the commissioner predicted tough negotiations ahead. “The discussions on sugar will not be sweet,” she warned.

But she was encouraged there was a realisation among farm ministers that doing nothing was not an option.

This was because of the volume of sugar that was about to enter the EU free of duty from the world‘s poorest countries.

“I hope that the UK presidency will reach political conclusions next November, in time for the next world trade organisation meeting in Hong Kong in December,” she said.

“The EU will be in a stronger position in these talks if we have reformed the sugar sector.”

*For more of Mrs Fischer Boel‘s views see next week’s FARMERS WEEKLY (w/e Dec 10)