Victoria Prentis hails agricultural policy as ‘Brexit win’
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Earlier this month, a group of 130 UK farmers wrote an open letter to the Government demanding that they fulfil their Brexit promises and roll out the long-delayed agricultural scheme to replace the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Writing to Environment Secretary George Eustice, the British farmers argued that the CAP promoted bad agricultural practices, which decreased productivity and pushed farmers further away from achieving net zero goals.
According to farming experts, French influence on the EU is a major reason that the EU’s CAP failed to support farmers not only in the UK but in many other member countries.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dustin Benton, Policy Director of Green Alliance, described CAP as “one of the worst of the EU’s policies”.
He argues that the subsidy scheme primarily gives money to very large and affluent farmers, which makes it “not very socially progressive”.
This statement is backed by an EU Commission report, which says that 64 percent of the budget for subsidies is sent to the 20 percent of the generally affluent farm landowners who own large scale farms.
Mr Benton added: “It doesn’t really support food production in any meaningful way, which was actually its original purpose when the CAP was formed 50 years ago.
“It doesn’t do anything for nature or climate change, which are some of the biggest challenges that the food system needs to address.
“If you speak to farmers who are trying to get to net-zero, CAP doesn’t really help them do that, so there’s a real frustration.”
According to Mr Benton, powerful farming lobbies in France are a major reason why the EU’s CAP has not helped many farmers.
He said: “There have been a lot of reforms to the CAP, but the shorthand for it is that it all has to do with national interests and European budgets work.
“[The french farming lobby] is the group that benefits most from this system and is the most politically effective at it.
“Put simply, whenever there’s a proposal that the French farmers don’t like the kind of drive their tractors up to Élysée Palace and knock on the front door.”
During Brexit, the Government promised a new agricultural policy to replace CAP.
But, according to the farmers, the new Environmental Land Management Scheme is likely to face further delays of at least two more years, which means that British farmers continue to operate under the CAP to receive farming subsidies.
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