12 May 2000
Yeo slams ‘feeble’ reforms
By FWi staff
THE government has thrown away any meaningful opportunity to help farmers, claims the shadow agriculture minister.
Tim Yeo said the “utterly feeble” package of reforms agreed by EU heads of state a year ago meant a chance of real change was lost, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Speaking during the annual debate on the Common Agricultural Policy, Mr Yeo said the farming crisis was getting steadily worse by the month.
Despite the CAPs 25 billion annual cost, British farm incomes were at their lowest since the 1930s, while EU food prices were artificially high, he said.
Mr Yeo said there must be changes in the culture and philosophy of CAP, as well as its practical policies.
The Tory spokesman also accused the government of not acting against France even though BSE was much more widespread there than previously thought.
Agriculture minister Nick Brown acknowledged these were difficult times for farming, but said the Tories were wrong in blaming every problem on Brussels.
He said the way ahead for British farming lay in negotiation rather than a trade war which could jeopardise the 10bn annual food exports.
Mr Brown said considerable progress had been made in the past few months with the launch of the 62-point action plan following the Downing Street farming summit.
The minister also revealed that the government is in discussion with the European Commission about a 26m scheme to help the pig industry.
The BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme says Mr Brown told MPs that the Inland Revenue will work with the National Farmers Union to encourage families in difficulties to claim benefits
- MPs debate future of farming, FWi, 11 May 2000
- Farm Summit news and reaction, FWi, 30 March, 2000
- The Daily Telegraph 12/05/2000 page 10