9 April 2001
Pay farmers for ‘gardening’ – Tory

By FWi staff

A LEADING Conservative has called for farmers to be paid for becoming large-scale landscape gardeners who provide the backdrop to other rural businesses.

John Redwood, head of the Conservative parliamentary campaigns unit, wants a more market-oriented approach to agriculture after foot-and-mouth.

Mr Redwood, MP for Wokingham, Berkshire, believes agriculture must be reformed after the crisis subsides to the benefit of consumers as well as farmers.

Writing in The Independent, Mr Redwood says: “The nightly scenes on our televisions look like a trailer for a new version of Dantes Inferno.”

In a special Comment column, he continues: “The current state of our livestock industry is the result of 27 years of the Common Agricultural Policy.

“It has encouraged a much more footloose type of husbandry.”

Mr Redwood adds: “It is time to think of returning agricultural matters to national government. We need to trust the market more and governments less.”

Repatriating agricultural policy would let the market do more, he argues.

“We could buy food from developing countries instead of shutting them out, and lower the price of the shopping basket.

“We could allow local markets and facilities to return by lightening the regulatory burden.

“We could offer farmers cash payments for environmental purposes, recognising that they are becoming landscape gardeners on a grand scale, providing the backdrop for many other rural businesses.”

Bureaucratic controls have led to the collapse of many farms, the smell of death in the countryside and a ruined livestock industry, says Mr Redwood.

“Surely it the time has come to trust farmers and country people more and planners in government offices rather less,” he concludes.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage