Farm subsidies should be phased out for good and a significant proportion of the funds released channelled into rural development says a new report from the House of Lords European Union Committee: Lords
The report points out that farm subsidies in their present form are a poorly focused policy instrument. The committee therefore advocates a phased reduction in farm subsidies from 2014.
The chair of the committee, Lord Sewel (who was a junior agriculture minister in Scotland from 1997 to 1999) commented, 'Agricultural interests can no longer be equated with rural interests. Public money should be targeted directly at environmental benefits and rural development goals, rather than being spent on income support for farmers and landowners in the hope that this will produce the desired knock-on effects. We are not persuaded by the argument that the risk of future food shortages should be hedged against by freezing current production patterns.'
NFU economist Carmen Suarez specified five conditions that would have to be met before Pillar 1 supports were removed, including 'policies to enhance agricultural competitiveness' which could well be a device for subsidies under another name.