NFU hits back at strongly-worded attack by the Guardian on CAP

The Guardian newspaper has stoked anger among grower leaders after a strongly worded editorial comment condemned the Common Agricultural Policy as rotten.

NFU defended the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after the 5 July editorial headlined ‘Rotten but here to stay’, which suggested it be replaced by smaller, targeted schemes serving green and social goals.

"Everybody agrees the €50bn a year common agricultural policy is rotten. Everybody, in public, promises reform. Everybody, in private, is out for what they can get. The result is an economic and environmental disaster."

The editorial went to say poor farmers struggled while rich corporations creamed off profits; there were 174 "French subsidy millionaires" and other recipients included a Swedish accordion club and Danish billiard club.

Tom Hind, NFU head of economics and international affairs, responded: "A proper analysis of CAP spending in 2009 would reveal that over €39 billion was spent on supporting the incomes of over seven million farmers across the EU, whose average income is less than a half the EU average wage.

"Far from harming the environment, the CAP supports sustainable production. Direct aids to farmers are linked to meeting EU legislation in respect of the environment.

"What is more, €13 billion worth of CAP support is spent annually on rural development and agri-environmental measures.

"A consequence of this is that over 6.5 million hectares of land in England (nearly 70%) is now subject to a CAP-funded environmental scheme."

"It’s about time we saw a more balanced appraisal of the benefits of a European policy that costs less than half a percent of EU economic output, yet ensures that European consumers are supplied with food that is produced in the EU to standards of animal welfare and the environment that are arguably higher than anywhere else in the world.

"Further reform of the CAP is desirable to develop a more market focused, competitive sector that, ultimately can become less reliant on public support. Simply scrapping the CAP as you advocate would lead to the ruination of the EU farming sector and in turn, ruination of EU landscapes, the environment and, fundamentally food production in Europe."

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