Conservatives 09: NFU tells Tories to ditch anti-EU stance

NFU president Peter Kendall has urged the Conservatives to ditch their anti-European agenda or face being ignored during reforms of the CAP.

Speaking at an NFU fringe event at the party’s conference in Manchester on Monday, Mr Kendall warned that Britain had “few friends at the CAP table”.

He said the Tories needed to “make allies” within Europe or risk being left out when key policy decisions were being made.

“If you are going to pre-empt legislation [such as eid] you need an army of people out there with you,” he told shadow DEFRA minister Nick Herbert.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of noise in Europe that says the UK and the Tories are anti-European. That will make our job harder

“If we want to lead CAP reform we need to differentiate between our domestic view and europe’

Mr Kendall said the challenge for a Tory government would be to ensure common rules applied to all farmers across the continent.

“Helping farmers re-couple, such as in the dairy markets in Germany and France at the moment, means there is a dilemma – how do you build an alliance to form your vision of a single market?

“That’s the challenge you face,” he said.

But Mr Herbert said he rejected the suggestion the Tories would not get involved in discussions about agri policy in Brussels.

“The fact we want to see a refined, outward-looking EU doesn’t mean we don’t feel the need to engage and exert British influence,” he told a packed room of party delegates and farmers.

“There’s a debate to be had [about the UK’s role in Europe] but that debate won’t stop us engaging robustly in the EU in the interest of the nation and in support of British agriculture.”