Farmers need bigger role in supply chain, says NFU

FARMERS need to be better able to deal with market volatility and play a stronger role in the supply chain if they are to become less reliant on farm subsidies, the National Farmers' Union president has warned.

Peter Kendall told members of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee how European Commission CAP reform proposals could impact on agriculture in this country and said that farmers need to be able to compete more effectively.

Mr Kendall said afterwards: "While it is very early days and clarification is needed on the commission's initial proposals, we think it is positive that the EFRA committee has decided to look into this issue which is of considerable importance to UK farmers.

"The commission has some good intentions and places farming at the heart of its policy. But we do see the risks of a policy that would be less simple, less market-orientated and one which would hinder our competitiveness."

Mr Kendall said he wanted to work with the EU Commission and Westminster on the matter.

"In our evidence, we argued in favour of measures that could help achieve our ultimate goal, which is a sector that, given the right conditions, can depend less on public support. To achieve this we need to help farmers become more competitive but we also need to reinforce the position of farmers in the supply chain and to help them deal with volatility."

The CAP is due to be reformed by December 2013 and the EC will issue draft proposals later this year.

CW 15/1/11