Soaring budget deficits could thwart future government support for farming across Britain and the EU, according to shadow DEFRA secretary Nick Herbert.
Mr Herbert said it was clear that EU funding would be hit in the next round of CAP negotiations, reducing farmers’ single payments.
And the UK Treasury would be in similar dire straits, threatening funding for disease measures and other agricultural provision, he said during a visit to the West Country on 3 December.
“However, there are a number of other important things the government can do to back farming. Until recently, there really was a view among some in government that farming didn’t matter,” he told NFU members in Dorchester.
“It was even viewed by some as a bit of a problem. But that could not be more wrong. Food security is as important as energy security and we must not leave tackling it until too late,” he said.
“I believe that we need to restore food production as being the priority within DEFRA – and I do not see a conflict between the importance of farming and protecting the environment.”
Mr Herbert rejected any call for greater subsidies for farming, instead arguing that the government needed to ensure the market was operating correctly, to give farmers better real returns.