5 January 2000
Direct subsidies must go — Minister
By FWi staff
DIRECT subsidies paid to British farmers to produce food will have to be abolished in the near future, according to agriculture minister Nick Brown.
Mr Brown made the comments at the Oxford Farming Conference as he outlined his vision for the future of farming in Britain and the European Union.
“Not all member states accept this point of view, but I believe that direct production subsidies will eventually have to go,” he said.
Mr Brown said that current agricultural reforms were only the start of a much wider process of change in the agricultural sector across Britain and Europe.
He was speaking to over 500 delegates at a time when the National Farmers Union claims farming is suffering its worst crisis since the 1930s.
The future for British farmers would be affected by budgetary constraints, market liberalisation and EU enlargement, said Mr Brown.
“The way in which the EU responds to these three distinct imperatives for reform of agriculture policy will have a significant impact on farming in the UK.”
Mr Brown also emphasised the importance of switching farm spending from production support to support for the broader rural economy.
His comments follow a government announcement last month of a radical redirection of support for British farmers towards rural development measures.