Farming: Small sector with loud voice

25 September 2001

Farming: ‘Small sector with loud voice’

By FWi staff

FARMINGS power and influence are out of all proportion to its lowly economic standing, reckons columnist Peter Hetherington.

Writing in The Guardian on Tuesday (25 September), he says the farm lobby has managed “to portray its industry as the mainstay of the countryside”.

He quotes Sean Rickard, senior lecturer at Cranfield School of Management and a former chief economist of the National Farmers Union.

Says Mr Rickard, “It is amazing the NFU has been getting away with its propaganda that agriculture is the backbone of the countryside for so long.

“It has not been like that since the 70s.”

“If we are serious about the countryside, we should be looking at supporting other industries away from farming,” Mr Rickard adds.

“Why pour money into an industry running down, propping itself up by supporting the assets of farmers rather than jobs? It doesnt make sense.”

The level of funding for agriculture is out of all proportion to its contribution to the rural economy, says Prof Neil Ward.

Funding amounts to at least another 5 billion annually on top of foot-and-mouth compensation, Prof Ward told the paper.

Mr Ward adds that the government should be pressing hard in the European Union to divert money away from agricultural support to more productive areas of rural Britain.

Besides being professor of geography at Leeds University, Prof Ward is a member of the governments rural task force,


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