21 February 1997

Mixed opinions on compliance

THE need for cross compliance (linking aid payments to the environment) sparked debate at the conference.

NFU president Sir David Naish said it would obstruct competitiveness. He said the idea had "proved difficult to absorb, with the tools of farming given to people who had never seen a farm before".

And he called for a proper distinction between different policies, saying what is needed are agricultural policies to help competitiveness and incentive-led voluntary schemes for environmental needs.

Countryside Commission chairman Richard Simmonds took a different view, saying cross-compliance was here to stay.

But what was now needed was simpler rules and regulations. "Farmers today need an adviser just to keep them up to date with the proliferation of different grant schemes," said Mr Simmonds.

Some laws, therefore, would be brought together or rationalised, he predicted.n