South East Cambs MP calls on David Cameron to protect British farmers

James Paice

James Paice - Credit: Archant

FORMER Farming Minister Sir Jim Paice urged the Prime Minister to defend British farmers and the environment during the EU budget summit in Brussels held this week.

Under the terms of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) farmers receive payments for maintaining their land and there is a separate fund for environment or development programmes.

Supporters say it protects food production and allows farmers to stay in business during times when consumers demand higher production standards but cheaper food. However, it has been criticised for the huge costs involved and for failing to allow the farming industry to become commercially viable.

During the Prime Minister’s Question time, Sir Jim supported moves to reduce CAP funding, agreeing with the Government that current funding levels at nearly 40 per cent of the EU budget are unsustainable in the long-term.

However, Sir Jim insisted that reductions cannot impact unfairly on British farmers as he sought assurances from the PM that any reduction will apply to all farmers across Europe.

Sir Jim also urged the PM not to fall into the trap fell into by the previous Government of ending up with a cut to the funding linked to environmental benefits and rural development.

Jim said: “Meaningful reform of the CAP is essential to ensure a sustainable and competitive farming industry. However, the Prime Minister needs to protect British farming interests during negotiations and advocate strongly for no further cuts to funding for the rural development programme which was sadly reduced in 2005 under the Labour government.”