The Tenant Farmers Association is using its presence at this year’s Royal Cornwall Show to challenge all newly elected MEPs to learn about agriculture before they start trying to make policy for the industry.
TFA Chief Executive George Dunn said “MEPs need to get quickly up to speed with what is going on in our industry. Within the EU active consideration is now being given to what European agricultural policy should look like in the years after 2013. Already there is talk of agriculture's contribution to climate change, water quality and the wider environment. However, together with the environmental themes which have become such fashionable parts of agricultural policy over the past 20 years, we are also hearing again the theme of food security, something upon which the CAP was founded in the wake of the shortages created as a result of the Second World War”.
That MEP’s learn quickly has been never more vital since subject to ratification of the Lisbon treaty by all EU member states, which looks increasingly likely, the European Parliament will not only be required to provide an opinion on new policy but there will be a requirement upon the Commission and the Council of Ministers to take those opinions into consideration and to adjust proposed legislation accordingly.
“The worry is that MEPs in the recent past have taken a maverick approach to policy making which is not always helpful to the industry or the wider public good - note for example their actions in relation to pesticides. We need MEPs who have a sound working knowledge of agriculture and can be sensible and pragmatic about the development of policy for agriculture to ensure that the multiple benefits sought from the industry can be obtained and sustained,” said Mr Dunn.
“The South West is rightly proud of its long, agricultural heritage, including its great landlord/tenant estates and its ability to deliver significant environmental benefits in terms of both landscape and biodiversity. The region therefore needs MEPs that understand this heritage as they increase their input into the policy-making process within Brussels. In that respect those hoping to get elected this time round could not do much better than to educate themselves about the strength, passion and needs of the farming community in the South West by taking time out to visit the Royal Cornwall Show”, said Mr Dunn.
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