If the Prime Minister wants to protect consumers from shorter global food supplies by encouraging farmers to raise their output, he must help agriculture to meet the challenge by removing outdated production restraints imposed at a time when UK food security was not a national issue, the National Beef Association said today.
And that means reversing the misplaced over-emphasis on landscape and environmental protection forced on agriculture immediately after the formation of Defra and the adoption of its interpretation of the 2004 CAP reforms.
“The UK’s farmers can advance their contribution to national stability by producing more temperate food while still maintaining their contribution to a cleaner environment and an attractive landscape, as long as they are allowed to do so,” explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell
“However real freedom to deliver the food consumers want, and the nation needs, will only come if they are given a reasonable chance to adjust their businesses to the decoupling of direct support forced on them in 2005 and their inevitable exposure to unrestrained, laissez-faire, global economics from 2013.”
“The biggest hindrance at present is the progressive and incremental siphoning off of Single Farm Payment (SFP) into over-prioritised, Pillar 2 funded, environmental and social schemes which is stripping farmers of the means to introduce new methods of producing more, much needed food, and to do so more efficiently.”
“If SFP was left with farmers, until it is no longer paid in 2013, they would use it as capital to restructure their businesses so they were better placed to meet the cost and output challenges that are already mounting as fuel, fertiliser and animal feed prices increase.”
“Farmers cannot maximise output, maintain environmental safeguards, and run genuinely profitable, unsupported businesses, with one hand tied behind their back and without the retention of proper levels of SFP they will be unable to properly restructure.”
“It is being said that food security has become as important to the well being of the UK as a successful fight against terror. If government really believes that is the case it must reverse plans to strip even more SFP from farmers from 2009-2012 even if that means non-agricultural organisations having to give up pet projects using Pillar 2 money taken from what should be exclusively agricultural funds.”
”Government has to acknowledge it has taken an over-complacent position on the importance of domestic food production which can only be corrected by a root and branch re-examination of the now mistaken, anti-production policies, it has recently introduced,” Mr Burrell added.
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