THE FARMERS Union of Wales has warned that the Prime Minister’s recent calls for further CAP reform are part of a potentially very damaging game of political football.
“It is quite wrong for Mr Blair to focus on cuts in farm spending while fighting a personal battle with the French president over the UK’s EU rebate,” said FUW president Gareth Vaughan.
“After all, President Chirac only brought up the question of the rebate to divert attention from the “no” result in the recent referendum, and Mr Blair is adopting the same ploy by diverting attention from the rebate by raising CAP spending.”
The attack on the proportion of the budget going to agriculture was particularly galling just a few months after the UK Government sang the praises of the new single farm payment system, and the freeze on farm spending until 2013.
“Under the SFP agreement environmental protection, food quality, animal welfare and rural sustainability were major factors, but Mr Blair’s action this week have put all those benefits in jeopardy merely for the sake of his own political credibility.”
FUW leaders were also very worried that any delay in setting a new EU budget could impact severely on a range of schemes designed to help rural areas of Wales.