31 August 1999
NFU pleads for state help again
By FWi staff,
THE National Farmers Union has again called on the government to help producers cope with the ongoing crisis in agriculture.
Ministers must “provide farmers with the wherewithal to move out of the current dire situation they are experiencing,” said a statement from the union.
In an initial response to the governments consultation on the future of farming, the statement said that any future policy must be “realistic and economically feasible”.
The comments came after agriculture minister Nick Brown pledged his commitment to provide a strategy to secure a future for farming and rural communities.
Mr Brown launched a consultation last Wednesday to obtain views on future policies affecting farmers that are likely to be adopted by the UK government.
Those policies an early retirement scheme that could pay livestock farmers up to £40,000 each to get out of farming.
Farmers have been asked to respond to the consultation document, which can be found at http://www.maff.gov.uk/farm/agendtwo/agendtwo.htm.
The NFU statement said the union shared Mr Browns vision that UK agriculture should be competitive, environmentally friendly, and responsive to consumers wishes.
But it would be impossible to achieve those aims unless farming is profitable as well, the statement added.
Government policies must be fully resourced and free farmers from the regulatory burden and cost that is currently choking them, said Ben Gill, NFU President.
“Given the current plight that farmers are in, with desperately low incomes, it is imperative that a workable formula is found to drive the industry forward.”
Mr Gill said the government must give farmers a vision of what they see as farmings role in the new millennium.
“This role must give them cause for optimism, and a bright future with the right tools to do the job,” he said.
Mr Gill said the governments consultation was an opportunity to for rural people say how farm reform could be implemented without disadvantaging UK farmers.
“Fundamentally the industry has to be properly resourced and we will be pressing the Government again to ensure that the CAP proposals are adequately funded.”
In addition to commenting on the overall strategic direction, the NFU said it would comment fully on specific questions in the Governments document in due course.