Paice criticises government’s CAP stance

The government does not fully understand farming and its needs, former farm minister and First Milk chairman Jim Paice has told the Oxford Farming Conference.

Sir Jim was the guest speaker at the conference dinner on Monday 6 January. The MP for South East Cambridgeshire told the audience, which included DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson, that the Treasury’s demanding funding cuts had made CAP negotiations in Europe difficult.

In the long term Sir Jim said he was not convinced CAP mattered that, much because subsidies would end, making it a “sterile debate”. Sir Jim said he wished more attention had been given to talking about stepping up production.

“All the talk about CAP reform has been a complete wasted opportunity,” he said. “We should have been focused on talking about an industry free of the shackles of government and proud to be producing vital ingredients for human life. Instead we’ve looked backwards to dependency.”

He called for more people to argue the case for science because it was “a force for good and we cannot survive without it”. Sir Jim also stressed the need for greater cooperation across the industry, saying “even the biggest farmers were minnows in a global market” and needed to work together to make the most of the opportunity.

Sir Jim concluded by praising outgoing NFU president Peter Kendall, whom he said would be sorely missed and the whole industry owed him a great debt of gratitude for his leadership.

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