THE recent reforms to the CAP represent a fresh start for every farmer and present a massive opportunity for producers to diversify into new markets, according to government adviser Donald Curry.
Speaking at a seminar at the Kent County Show on Fri (Jul 15), Sir Donald urged farmers to consider all the options open to their business in order to make the most of their assets.
While recognising many farmers have encountered difficulties with the recent reforms, especially those associated with mapping, he emphasised the opportunities to reconnect with markets and move up the food chain.
Consumers, he said, spent £127bn last year on food, yet farmers only realised £6.5bn of that. More had to be done, said Sir Donald.
The depressingly low prices experienced in commodity markets should provide all the necessary motivation for farmers to diversify into new markets, he said.
“Commodity production in Britain will continue to face challenging times. Business plans that are based on commodity production, but only make a profit every couple of years, will find little favour with a bank manager.”
Recognising that many farmers are frustrated at the difficulties they face applying for the entry level scheme, Sir Don asked landowners to be patient with the system as the benefits were well worth waiting for.
“The income stream may be small, but it is none the less additional.”
But he added the real importance of environmental stewardship would be demonstrating to the public that farmers are serious about protecting the environment.