The Liberal Democrats have launched a new farming paper which sets out their vision for the future of farming and the countryside.
The Party claims that the document, A Sound Future for Farming, includes proposals which would ensure a future for a living and working countryside in the 21st Century.
Shadow DEFRA secretary Normal Baker said the paper set out a strategy to use available funds better to help protect family farms and those in less favoured areas.
“We also call for the introduction of co-financing between the EU and the UK, so bringing back some of the decision-making powers from Brussels to London, Edinburgh and Cardiff.
“Our strategy aims to put money back into rural communities, using public money for the delivery of public goods. To this end we would encourage food produced and sold locally to high animal welfare and environmental standards, cutting food miles and ensuring sustainability.”
The key recommendations raised in the paper are as follows:
• To set a ceiling for single farm payments made under the CAP provided the surplus generated can be retained in the UK. The funds released would be used to support poorer farmers and environmental objectives, subject to EU approval.
• To appoint a Food Trade Inspector in the Office of Fair Trading to proactively monitor the way in which supermarkets interact with farmers and suppliers.
• To reverse the decision to cut Pillar II funds and ensure that public money is used to deliver public goods as well as arguing the case for the UK to receive twice the level of Pillar II funding that it does now.
• To encourage farming to play its part in tackling climate change, particularly in the development of biomass crops.
• To continue to remove all direct production and export subsidies from the CAP whilst driving up production standards for food imports.
• To ensure domestic production is not unfairly undercut by external competition and support continued local, sustainable food production in this country.