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Common Agricultural Policy

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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17.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the European Commission's proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. [120203]

The UK Government have strongly supported the aims of the European Commission's proposals on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is currently heavily engaged in trying to secure a deal which will benefit farmers, consumers, the environment, developing countries and world trade.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the likely impact of the current Common Agricultural Policy reform proposals on the number of agricultural jobs in the UK. [120202]

The European Commission's CAP reform proposals to break the link between subsidies and production would enable producers to respond more directly to market signals. This may reduce employment in direct agricultural production, while creating new opportunities from diversified land uses. We estimate that the economic benefits from such restructuring could be worth €400 million per year in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the delegations which Ministers have met to discuss support for farmers of unsupported crops prior to the forthcoming CAP mid-term review. [118059]

My noble Friend Lord Whitty has had regular discussions on all aspects of the CAP reform proposals with a Contact Group comprising:

  • British Retail Consortium;
  • Country Land and Business Association:
  • Countryside Agency;
  • Countryside Alliance;
  • English Nature;
  • Environment Agency;
  • Farm Animal Welfare Council;
  • Farmcare;
  • Food and Drink Federation;
  • Home Grown Cereals Authority;
  • Institute of Grocery Distribution;
  • Meat and Livestock Commission;
  • National Consumer Council;
  • National Farmers Union;
  • National Trust;
  • OXFAM;
  • Rural Development Agencies;
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds;
  • Soil Association;
  • Sustainable Development Commission;
  • Tenant Farmers Association;
  • Trade Union Congress; and
  • Wildlife and Countryside Link.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has also discussed the proposals with a number of bodies represented on the Contact Group. In addition, officials have had a number of meetings with those specifically representing unsupported sector interests, including the Processed Vegetable Growers Association and the Blackcurrant Growers Association.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on family outgoings of (a) farm subsidies, (b) the effect of the Common Agricultural Policy upon food costs and (c) other rural subsidies. [120192]

Farm subsidies paid through the EU budget represent £4–£5 per week for a family of four and the Common Agricultural Policy is estimated to add £5–£6 per week to family food costs.Rural areas will benefit from many of the nationally available subsidies.