Euro farm policy update delayed as amendments pour in by the thousand

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The European Commission’s draft rewrite of the Common Agricultural Policy has attracted 7,000 amendments, farmers were told yesterday.

The figure emerged yesterday at the Northern Farming Conference in Harrogate, where 320 delegates gathered to lick the wounds of a bad year.

They were told it now looked impossible that a new CAP would be ready on schedule for 2014.

Lord de Mauley, a new Defra Minister, was booked to speak but was called to an emergency meeting on ash tree disease.

Farmer Julian Sturdy, who became Conservative MP for York Outer in 2010, stood in, saying the new CAP was unlikely to arrive on time.

Anne McIntosh, a neighbouring Tory MP and chair of the cross-party EFRA committee, which scrutinises Defra affairs, confirmed this, revealing the number of possible amendments requiring consideration.

Several speakers said heavy summer rain and little sunshine had meant the worst harvest for years and a bad start to 2013. Andrew Gloag, who runs an arable consortium around Stokesley, presented rainfall figures for his farm going back to the 1960s, showing each decade had at least one similar year.

Shadow Environment Secretary and Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said climate change was the biggest threat facing farming and tackling it would be a core Labour government policy.

See next Saturday’s Country Week for a fuller report.