Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

11 MAR 2013

Eastern region MEP warns CAP reforms could be a backward step

This week in Strasbourg, the European Parliament will be voting on hundreds of amendments to a package of reports on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Following the vote, negotiations will take place with national agricultural ministers from the 27 Member States.

Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP for the East of England, said: "With so many amendments on the table it is difficult to get a clear picture of what the reform package will look like but I am very concerned that it will be a step backwards. I have always felt that the best way to provide a level playing field for producers is to reduce the political manipulation of public subsidies. I believe that it is unreasonable to use public money to subsidise less efficient businesses to the detriment of more economic and efficient ones, especially at a time of growing food shortages. The good news is that the overall amount of money going to agriculture subsidies has reduced. However it is likely that many of these amendments will move farmers further away from the market.

"Parliament amendments on so-called "intervention" risk taking us back towards milk lakes and butter mountains. Our most productive farmers could be put at a competitive disadvantage if payments are weighted to smaller farms. And the great progress that has been made here in the East of England by farmers to help biodiversity under our environmental stewardship schemes could be threatened too.

"Each member state should be allowed to develop their own local environmental schemes according to local conditions. Instead we have a one size fits all pan European approach. This blunt instrument won't help the environment and will impact on our ability to produce food. We also need to make sure we dont end up imposing higher standards, or greater compliance costs, on English farmers than those in other UK regions or other European Countries.

"Finally, given food security and economic concerns we need to make sure that improvements to help biodiversity and the environment are implemented in a way that does not require the land in question to be taken out of production."

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My Political Priorities

Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

I support Science and Research which is key to delivering better medical care, healthy food as well as the Innovation and Creative Industries which bring improved lifestyles for all our families.

Strong home Security is vital in today's uncertain world, which requires robust policing and defence and deep international relationships that we can depend on. I work with others to achieve this.

I care about the Countryside and the Environment and making sure that rural and urban communities flourish.