5 December 1997

No union members on advisory group

FARM minister, Jack Cunningham has set up a new independent group to advise him on key agricultural, environmental and rural policy issues.

But the list of 11, which includes eminent economists, academics, conservationists and consumers representatives does not contain any NFU member and only one farmer.

Dr Cunningham said that the groups first task would be to take a close look at the EU Commissions proposals to reform the CAP and assess their impact on farming, the countryside and the wider economy.

"We need a fresh insight across a range of issues. This group will provide that. Its first task is a big one," said Dr Cunningham. "CAP reform affects us all. It is not just about farmers, it is about consumer choice, food prices, exports, jobs and the rural environment," he added.

Ian Gardiner, NFU director of policy, said that while the NFU had close links with the minister, it was disappointing that no high-ranking union official was on the advisory committee.

The sole farmer representative is John Cousins, who farms near Suffolk, Ipswich. He is also director of agricultural policy for the Wildlife Trusts and an executive director of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group. &#42