26 July 2002

Price of independence

AN EAST Anglia farmer who has tried to reduce his dependence on subsidies faces being penalised under proposed reforms of the CAP.

Peter Fairs, who farms a total of 1600ha (4000 acres) at Great Tey, near Colchester, Essex, said: "This is potentially disastrous for us."

Under the proposals for reform, farmers will receive a subsidy equivalent to the average they have received in the three years before the new scheme is introduced.

However, Mr Fairs has been growing crops like borage, echium, quinoa and camelina, which do not attract subsidies. He is now worried that if alternative crop prices were to fall he could not return to cereal cropping because he wouldnt be able to compete with farmers who had grown cereals continuously.

Mr Fairs believes by trying to move away from subsidised farming he could be more than £50/ha (£20/acre) worse off. &#42

CAPreform blues…Peter Fairs could lose out after growing crops like echium.