Blair rules out farming compensation

31 January 2000

‘Blair rules out farming compensation’

By FWi staff

TONY BLAIR will not offer special compensation for farmers in an expected address to farmers leaders meeting on Tuesday (1 February), it has been reported.

This goes against earlier reports that the Prime Minster would announce extra funding in an, as yet unconfirmed, appearance at the National Farmers Union annual general meeting in London.

But today (31 January), several newspapers claim Mr Blair will tell the NFU conference that the industry should focus not on “short-term fixes”, but on longer-term solutions.

However, it is expected farming minister Nick Brown will attempt to soften the blow by announcing moves to cut the burden of red tape.

According to the The Financial Times, Mr Blair will tell delegates: “No-one can pretend that parts of the farming industry are in crisis and I am not going to pretend the government can solve all the farmers problems.

“The answer cannot be ever more subsidy and ever more compensation.”

Officials are said to report that farmers have received 435 million in special aid since Labour came to power.

Instead of extra cash, it is said Mr Blair will urge the industry to diversify, exploit more environmental markets, and adopt more new technologies, including the Internet.

It had been thought that Mr Blair may have offered up to 362m of agrimoney — compensation for the strength of Sterling against the Euro.

Many observers had also predicted the Prime Minister would make a special payment to pig farmers, whose industry is in crisis and are not eligible for EU payments.

In his speech Mr Brown is expected to promise to lighten the inspection regime in small slaughter houses, reduce form filling by using new technology and reform the price intervention system.

This comes in response to the findings or three working groups set up to investigate ways of cutting red tape in the industry.

Support for the governments decision to back away from handing out money to agriculture will get support this week with the release of a report showing the countryside is better off than some metropolitan areas.

The report shows that rural areas have a higher proportion of small growing companies than urban areas.

The countryside also comes well out of comparison with urban areas in measures of employment, average prosperity, crime and education.

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