NFU urges growers to use European vote

The NFU is urging growers to make their vote count during June's European elections, following its launch last week of a "policy wish list" that includes a manifesto calling for "sound science" and practical policies from Eurocrats.

World Class Policies for World Class Farming calls for the European Parliament to recognise the industry's social contribution beyond the common agricultural policy (CAP).

The British Agricultural Bureau, representing the NFU in England, Wales, Scotland and Ulster, wants a supply-chain code of practice and more R&D.

"The report puts productive agriculture, the environment and the need for greater research funding at the heart of the EU agenda," said NFU president Peter Kendall.

"It highlights the issues crucial to winning the farming vote at European elections on 4 June," he said of the manifesto launched at the European Parliament.

"MEPs will be making decisions that impact directly on our businesses. Their views will shape farming policy on everything from animal health to the future of CAP."

NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond told Grower: "We need better regulation that is science-based and with full impact assessments on environmental and economic implications.

"Some rulings in recent months, such as on pesticides, have added costs to the industry and shown little value. There are over 600 MEPs and we have to get our message across. Once we influence them, they can influence colleagues."

Last week, Raymond told BBC Radio 4's Farming Today show: "European elections are every five years and it's up to members to vote. It's our opportunity as an industry to make our vote count because the MEPs will be in a fairly influential position over the next five years."

Raymond added that he wanted to improve the farming knowledge of MEPs - particularly to educate them in terms of how important horticultural crops and agriculture were to the UK.

"The future of CAP will be so important. The big debate over the next 18 months will be the European budget," he said.

"There will be core decision powers in the parliament and MEPs will have a big say. This issue is key to UK farming."

Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith, Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's agriculture committee, pledged to support the manifesto.

"If anything, the NFU is being a bit restrained and can expect more from Scotland's reps in Europe than the warm words and vague promises this document invites."

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