Scotland 'on message' on farm subsidies

Scotland is far more in tune with current thinking on farm subsidies in mainland Europe than England and Wales, claims Scotland’s rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead. Addressing farmers at a Christmas Carcass competition in Inverurie, Mr Lochhead brought them glad tidings about the deep divide in agriculture policies on the two sides of the border. ‘My opinion on CAP reform is very different from DEFRA’s view that all direct subsidies should be removed and we should rely on a free market. Scotland should not go down that route and our thinking is much closer to the mainstream of Europe which is that the pendulum is swinging back towards support for active agriculture.’

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Scotland ‘on message’ on farm subsidies

Scotland is far more in tune with current thinking on farm subsidies in mainland Europe than England and Wales, claims Scotland’s rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead. Addressing farmers at a Christmas Carcass competition in Inverurie, Mr Lochhead brought them glad tidings about the deep divide in agriculture policies on the two sides of the border. ‘My opinion on CAP reform is very different from DEFRA’s view that all direct subsidies should be removed and we should rely on a free market. Scotland should not go down that route and our thinking is much closer to the mainstream of Europe which is that the pendulum is swinging back towards support for active agriculture.’

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Tackling the new (old) productivism

This afternoon I did a pre-recorded interview with BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme. The subject was the House of Lords report on the 2010 EU budget, which says too much money is being spent on agriculture. The first question I was asked by the presenter shows how deeply the new (old) productivism has taken root over the past year. I was asked something along the lines of “Given the fears about food security, don’t we need a well-funded agriculture sector?”.

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UK wheat can compete – so does it need subsidies?

Russia and Romania may be two of the cheapest places in the world to produce wheat, but the UK is only a little way behind. Releasing the result of its Global Cost of Production Challenge, Bidwells Agriculture head of research Carl Atkin, said that despite the higher unit price of inputs in the UK, cost of production per tonne is only marginally higher than in eastern Europe. ‘This is because of the considerable yield advantage the UK has, based on first-class soils and a maritime climate.’

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UK wheat can compete – so does it need subsidies?

Russia and Romania may be two of the cheapest places in the world to produce wheat, but the UK is only a little way behind. Releasing the result of its Global Cost of Production Challenge, Bidwells Agriculture head of research Carl Atkin, said that despite the higher unit price of inputs in the UK, cost of production per tonne is only marginally higher than in eastern Europe. ‘This is because of the considerable yield advantage the UK has, based on first-class soils and a maritime climate.’

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UK farm unions call for a common EU agriculture policy

The four main farm unions of the United Kingdom today unveiled a joint manifesto aimed at the June elections to the European Parliament. The slim, 8 page document sets out a UK farmers’ agenda on a range of issues of concern. While the manifesto makes the case for lighter touch regulation of farming (e.g. on pesticides, nitrates, greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation and health issues like BSE) it calls for more powerful regulation of the food chain to defend farmers incomes. When it comes to the future of the CAP it seems that the major concern is to prevent the ‘re-nationalisation’ of the policy.

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UK Tories on a crooked path to protectionism?

I realise that opposition politicians have to say all things to all persons and jump on any bandgwagon that’s going on, but I must say that I found an interview with Nick Herbert, the shadow Defra secretary, in Farmers Weekly a bit disappointing. It remains to be seen whether the MP for Arundel and South Downs will be Defra secretary in David Cameron’s Conservative government, or even whether Defra will remain in his present form. However, if his thinking is typical of that in the shadow cabinet on agriculture and food matters, it’s a bit worrying. It looks as if we could be lurching back towards productionism.

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