29 March 2002

UK Treasury is responsible for farmings crisis

DONT blame CAP or the supermarkets for UK farmings crisis, the real culprits are the UK Treasury and the Fontainebleau rebate, according to EU consultant Richard North.

Dr North claimed to have discovered the truth in a European Parliament report on support for young farmers.

The UK had no incentives for young farmers because, in the words of the report: "UK agricultural policy has been dominated by the Treasury seeking to minimise use of the European Guarantee and Guidance Fund to the maximise the rebate."

The financial health of UK farming depended not only on the level of subsidy it received, but also on the level of subsidy competitors received, he added.

Foreign farmers who received more subsidy than their UK counterparts had a competitive advantage because they could offer to sell more cheaply.

Supermarkets were commercial companies, operating in a competitive field, and could not be criticised for buying as cheaply as possible, said Dr North.

The answer to the farming crisis was immediate financial support and that depended on money from the Treasury and cabinet support, he said.