29 March 2002

Modulation in doubt after NZ

A FACT finding tour of New Zealand by Parliaments environment, food and rural affairs select committee has cast doubt on the policy of modulation as a means of funding environmental schemes, according to committee chairman David Curry.

Committee chairman David Curry said they went to see what lessons could be learned from the experience of farming without subsidies for their Future of UK Agriculture: Farming Beyond Subsidies? report.

But the trip had made Mr Curry question personally whether it was right to be looking at increasing modulation to pay for improvements in the environment.

"Would modulation money be better spent to encourage restructuring of the industry? Is it seriously a good idea to give support for environmental goods or is it creating the environmental equivalent of a CAP?"

Mr Curry said the group had also seen that it was possible to sustain farming in a liberal, non-interventionist atmosphere without there being catastrophic environmental damage.

"We do not pretend that you can simply transpose NZ policies to Europe. But we went to see what are the important lessons to be learned and the sensible questions to be asked." &#42

The committee hopes to have finished its report, which it took oral evidence for during January and February, by the summer recess.