Industry leaders take a look at next years news
As 1999 draws to a close
Alistair Driver asks
industry figures for their
predictions on what will
make next years news
Philip Lymbery, Compassion in World Farming campaigns director
IF 1999 was the year of battery cage as far as CIWF is concerned – 2000 will be the year of live animal exports. This issue is set to come back in a big way, especially with the continued pressure for a resumption in veal calf exports.
CIWF will also be maintaining the profile of food labelling, particularly on pigmeat. We want "country of origin" and "system of rearing" information to be included on labels.
Stewart Houston, National Pig Association producer group chairman
AS more British pig producers go out of business next year, supermarkets will realise the devastating effect their "new low, low price ethic" is having on domestic pig production.
We want them to realise consumers are prepared to pay more for the high specification UK product – that little bit extra that could make all the difference to a farmers prospects of survival.
The effect of the strong pound on the influx of cheap, lower standard imports will continue to be an issue. We also expect a positive response from the government next year to our calls for compensation to pig producers for the cost of BSE-related food safety measures.
Richard Young, Soil Association policy adviser
WITH the incidence of bovine TB in humans on the increase – even though it is still at low levels – the TB issue is set to run and run.
Although we are not against the culling of badgers where farmers feel they pose a threat of spreading the disease, we would like the focus to shift more towards the relationship between intensive farming and the incidence of TB in cattle.
The debate over the use of growth promoter, avilamycin, will continue and more farmers will set about coping without any antibiotic growth promoters. Will this mean the adoption of better farming practice or will farmers just use more medicinal antibiotics?
Tim Yeo, Conservative Party shadow farm minister
THE big story in 2000 will be the same as it was in 1999 – the crisis in British farming. The great battle will be between those that want a future for British agriculture and those that would throw our farmers on to the scrap heap of history.
This is not a fight for the faint hearted – Frances refusal to lift its ban on British beef shows just how far the softly softly approach gets us. Britain must be recognised as a nation that stands up for its farmers.
Will we let the pig industry go to the wall while cruelly produced imports flood the supermarket shelves? Or do we have the courage to insist that imported food meets the animal welfare standards expected of British farmers?
Eifion Evans, British Veterinary Association president
THE start up of the Food Standards Agency will be very significant. I am not aware of veterinary surgeons being on the board, but I expect vets on farms to play an important part in the FSAs approach to food safety.
The BVA will also be at the forefront of moves to ensure the proper use of antibiotics in farming. We have compiled a report on the subject and will be running courses for vets and their staff across the country. Another big story will be the end of the BSE inquiry.
Doug Parr, Greenpeace chief scientific adviser
AN issue that is going to creep up steadily is the use of genetically modified crops in animal feed. Cultural sensitivity to food is going to increase and the media focus will remain on the food industry.
The start of the Food Safety Agency will be interesting when it comes into being in the summer. The appointment of Professor Krebs as its head could be an area to watch – a scientist may or may not instil consumers with confidence.
Anthony Bosanquet, Country Landowners Association president
THE CLA will be looking closely at the governments proposed Countryside Bill, announced in the Queens speech. Legislation is expected in February or March.
Key questions include how the government will define, map and identify areas of open access, how it will resolve the liability issue and how to reconcile the apparently conflicting aims of protecting vulnerable areas of countryside while increasing public access. We look forward to a constructive governmental review of the Rights of Way Network.
Ministry of Agriculture spokesman
AGENDA 2000 issues will continue to dominate the headlines, as farmers find out exactly what the reforms mean for them. Farm Minister Nick Brown will be keen to push on with reform of the CAP.
Ben Gill, NFU President
THE real question is not "what are the issues that will affect the industry?", but what are the issues we want to change?
The strength of sterling and high interest rates will not magically disappear, but while these and other challenges lie ahead, there is still a great deal to look forward to.
The NFUs Great British food brand will meet the publics growing demand for easily identifiable, independently checked quality British Food.
The continuing success of farmers markets and farmer co-operatives demonstrate the real innovation that exists within the industry and other market focused initiatives will emerge.
Colin Breed, Liberal Democrat agricultural spokesman
THE beef saga is likely to run for sometime yet, while the Rural White Paper due in the New Year and WTO talks will stimulate plenty of debate.
There will be a huge raft of rural and agricultural legislation coming this year which we hope can be turned to the benefit of farmer. The Lib Dems will be pushing for an agricultural ombudsman so MAFF are not judge and jury.