It was interesting to hear Meurig Raymond talking at the Great Yorkshire Show. The NFU is, of course, going through a big consultation exercise with its members, but it was possible to see some of his thinking.
The balance of payments argument was used extensively in the 1960s as a justification for subsidies to farmers and with the trade deficit at not far off 7 per cent of GDP, it seems that this is to be used again. Of course, much of the deterioration is due to falls in repatriated investment income. The balance of trade in goods, although in deficit, is broadly stable.
It was interesting that he said it was not necessary to match the current sum paid by the CAP to the UK, but this may just be an acceptance of reality.
He was clearly aware of how relatively well Pillar 2 type payments are viewed, but said these should be more oriented to promoting competitiveness on the farm.
He noted that farmers found it difficult to influence the UK Government, noting the recent decision to turn down a revised and reduced application for the use of neonics. Denmark had permitted 100 per cent use.
In reply to a question, he made it clear that the scope for coalition building with NGOs was limited. The focus would be on the NFU's own members.