7 February 2000
‘Blair has no strategy for farming’
By FWi staff
A LEADING agricultural academic has accused the government of urging farmers to look to the future, yet having no long-term strategy for British farming itself.
Professor David Harvey, agricultural economist at Newcastle University, calls for a radical overhaul of farming subsidies if agriculture is to survive.
And Prof Harvey says there is a case for extra aid to offset BSE costs passed back to the farmers, despite Tony Blairs refusal to provide a short-term “quick fix”.
“I think there is some justifiable reason for short-term assistance on that score, at least for a while until the market stabilised,” Prof Harvey told the Radio 4 Farming Today programme.
But Prof Harvey said he was concerned by the apparent absence of a long-term farm strategy from the government and Europe.
“The Prime Minister is saying we need to have a long-term strategy, but what we also need is a long-term vision, of where were going to.
“Im afraid that I do not read that in the statements of either the government or the European Commission.”
Prof Harvey claims the only long-term future for farming is to trade at world prices, but says the way the subsidy system operates makes it difficult for farmers to adapt to this.
Instead of annual payments, Prof Harvey says farmers should be given a one-off lump sum – anything between three and seven years subsidy.
This would allow farmers to re-organise and produce to meet the demands of the world marketplace.