24 February 2000
Subsidies will be cut — but how to do it?

Subsidies will be cut – but how to do it?

IT is true that subsidy payments are presenting a false picture of the agricultural industry, especially with respect to cereals.

I believe the issue isnt one of just getting rid of subsidies and letting the strong businesses survive while the smaller weaker ones are forced out.

The main problem is that, for many years now, many farmers would not indicate just how much of their income is directly related to subsidies.

A large proportion of the income cereal producers receive is due to the subsidy payments.

Although these subsidies make up for the problems caused by the strong Pound, they have caused farmers to increase production because if they grow more area, they will receive more income.

It is inevitable that subsidies will be cut, but the key lies in how they are cut. A system needs to be developed that provides a transitionary phase to subsidy termination, a way that may allow some of the smaller businesses to survive.

For Britain to stay in the agri-food sector as a producer, farmers will have to trade at world trade prices; the question is, how will the government aid agriculture in making this transition?

Farmers have a right to complain, it is their livelihood, and to be frank, students of agriculture should not be disheartened by the state of agriculture as they are the future.

Instead of turning away from the problems, they should address the problems and try and find ways to make agriculture in Britain a prosperous profession.

It has already been said that diversification is the way forward, but just how far do you diversify – until you are not really farming?

This is why farmers are reluctant to diversify because they wont be farmers any more.

If the EC is to develop a new CAP then I believe this should unite all the countries so that each country produces products that they excel in producing, therefore balancing the market and perhaps decreasing the huge surplus of produce that is just wasted, while third world countries starve.

  • Craig Storey, Sparsholt College, Winchester
    Email: cstorey@sparsholt.ac.uk