Farm leader Peter Kendall has urged politicians to drive a thriving and profitable agricultural industry by refocusing the CAP on its original objectives.
In his final speech to the Oxford Farming Conference as NFU president, Mr Kendall told listeners not everything he said would necessarily be union policy.
“Getting CAP right is absolutely fundamental – not just to us as farmers, but to all of us, inside Europe and out,” Mr Kendall told delegates on Tuesday (7 January).
“It is difficult to overstate how much the future of the CAP matters.”
Originally established as a policy to support farmers and food production, the CAP should return to the objectives laid out by the Treaty of Rome 60 years ago, he said.
The first objective of the treaty was to increase agricultural productivity – and to ensure a fair standard of living for the farming community.
Everything else was secondary, said Mr Kendall.
“What’s not there is as important as what is – and what’s not there is any hint of a social policy.”
The government and European Commission had crucial roles to play in ensuring the CAP was also in-line with the massive challenge of global food security
Changes needed to be made to ensure that goal was met, said Mr Kendall.
The CAP was no longer a common policy. There was too much national flexibility, which meant that the CAP stopped being common.
Reform had failed to put the CAP back on track, said Mr Kendall. It remained out of tune with the massive challenge of global food security, he added.
“Here are some suggestions on what needs to happen if we want it to work: We need to improve governance, stripping things down to bare essentials.”
Agricultural policy should be science-based, said Mr Kendall, not based on politics.
“If we are competing in a single market, we need a common policy to avoid distortions that 28 national policies would bring.”
Mr Kendall also questioned the need for a European rural development policy.
“We don’t have a common urban policy – or even a common suburban policy,” he said. “Rural development should be a national affair.”
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