Gill fights back against The Times

08 September 1999

Gill fights back against The Times

BEN Gill, president of the National Farmers Union, responds to stinging criticism of his members in a letter published in The Times.

An article by the papers respected columnist Simon Jenkins suggested last Friday that farmers had become over-dependent on subsidies from taxpayers.

Mr Gill admits he wants an interim subsidy to relieve the calf situation but says a more important concern is the removal of the cost of bureaucracy from the system.

He says the Common Agricultural Policy should be reformed but argues it would be unfair for farmers to compete on a world market where social, welfare and environmental standards are poor.

In the letters column of the same newspaper, the chief executive of English Nature makes out an environmental case for a reduction in sheep numbers.

He says grassland habitats are being “significantly overgrazed” for which he partly blames the common agricultural policy.

Another contributor to the letters column urges a redistribution of wealth from arable farmers to sheep farmers, suggesting a £10-per-acre windfall levy.

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