Euro-election hustings organised by the NFU last night. It was a cosy affair with less than a dozen farmers and just three candidates, me, Fiona Hall for the LibDems and Martin Callanan for the Tories.
I was surprised that there was no one from Labour or UKIP there, though someone unkindly said the only food & agriculture policy UKIP has is a dislike of Brussels sprouts.
Anyway it was far more a discussion than a question & answer session. Main messages to would-be MEPs was that the CAP should be common ie applied equally across the EU and a policy ie with a clear, relevant intention. I’d already tried to make the distinction between the intention of a policy, the systems put in place to achieve that intention and the way those systems are implemented. Much of the bad press the EU gets is (IMO) down to the way our government (and particularly DEFRA) chooses to implement Directives etc. Sometimes it feels as though a policy is being deliberately sabotaged.
Main message to the farmers was that there’s lots of Euro-money for research but very little in the old Structural Funds. Unfortunately, our Government isn’t helping farmers work with universities to tap into these new funding streams.
And there is a lot of research to be done into adaptation of farming practice to changing climate: the CAP needs to be revised to focus on food production and security adaptations to climate change, and a low carbon economy. I believe the Greens are the only political party thinking in these terms.