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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 04:36 GMT 05:36 UK
Farmers face the future
EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler is to unveil plans for major reform of Europe's $27bn a year Common Agricultural Policy, but what do Europe's farmers think of the proposed changes?


Montserrat Cortinas, wine grower and cattle breeder, Galicia, Spain

Although I do not like the current CAP, I believe common policies are always important.

Historically in Spain it has led to modernisation and an important change of structures.

But the as it stands now, the policy has produced perverse effects.


Every time there is talk of reform and changes to the CAP I feel a certain unease

Montserrat Cortinas
The biggest ventures are those who benefit most from the policy.

Medium sized ones can no longer compete - they cannot buy the rights of production which have artificially high prices.

120 medium-sized farms a day closed their operations in 2001. It is having a dramatic social effect, with the loss of agricultural jobs.

There is no longer a place for young people in rural areas. Whole villages are being abandoned, and there are environmental consequences.

I would like the CAP to discriminate positively in favour of the true farmers - those who wish to live off their land, not those who have inherited vast stretches of land and often do not even know their workers.

Every time there is talk of reform and changes to the CAP I feel a certain unease. It usually means cuts, and I fear it does this time too.

If we want a cohesive Europe we do need change, but change with considerations in mind.


Harold Nytschke, mixed farmer, Germany

We are very unhappy indeed with the proposals and don't believe they are fair - either to farmers, or, at the end of the day, to consumers. We totally reject them.

The cut in subsidies mean we just won't be able to compete on the world market. We'll have to put our prices up, and then we will lose out because there will be cheaper food which is not of such a high quality coming onto the market from outside.


It may be expensive, but it's the only way to ensure a fair deal for farmers in the EU

Harold Nytschke, Germany
At the moment, our farm gets 750,000 euros per year. Under Mr Fischler's proposed reforms, we'll get a maximum of 300,000 euros.

This just isn't enough at a time when costs are going up - we're having to spend much more on things like fuel, for example. It's going to mean big changes for German farmers and the industry generally.

CAP is workable. It may be expensive, but it's the only way to ensure a fair deal for farmers in the European Union.


Ruaidhri Deasy, sheep and arable farmer, Tipperary, Ireland

"As far as I'm concerned we will be vetoing the review.

We have a major problem with tearing up an agreement which is only two years in existence.

I don't want to see any further reform that means farmers and producers will be penalised and money given to other sectors.


I'm damned if we are going to sit down and renegotiate a deal which the ink is hardly dry on

Ruaidhri Deasy
The Common Agricultural Policy was devised to compensate our farmers and I have no doubt that this is more about further funding of the EU.

I don't believe in any EU reforms before an agreement with the US.

No doubt in 2006 (the end of the current agreement) we will have to have more changes. But I'm damned if we are going to sit down and renegotiate a deal which the ink is hardly dry on.

Bertie Aherne has agreed to back us one hundred percent. I honestly believe a change of government in Germany, like recently in France, will help us.

And I know where Mr Fischer is coming from. He wants to see change for the benefit of southern European states.

It's a policy to manicure the ski slopes of Austria, but France, Ireland and the UK are in a different position.


Eric Tayleforth, sheep farmer, Cumbria, UK

Because of the type of land that we farm here in the Lake District we can't compete in the marketplace with our food.

What is costs us to produce food here is a lot higher and therefore CAP needs to put more emphasis on the environment.

I think we've got to work on a system that we are looking after the land on these fells, and there's got to be some sort of compensation for us, for that kind of farming.


We've still got to make a living or farmers are just going to leave

Eric Tayleforth
They can't go on handing out money on the acreage basis, which they have done because it's just producing more and more sheep and they don't want them, they want less.

We've still got to make a living or farmers are just going to leave.

If we lose the skills of looking after the sheep on these fells there'll be nothing left, once the older farmers give over the younger ones won't be interested because there's no living in it.

We've got to have a change and I know it's difficult for them to get a policy that suits everybody and that's the problem.

These policies that they decide in Europe can't work in this area, we need a different policy for this environmentally sensitive area.

I also hope they are going to change the policy on foot and mouth, I think they'll bring in a vaccination policy, which I think we should have had before.


Mr Langlois-Berthelot, grain farmer, Normandy, France

I am really unhappy for several reasons. Firstly, we thought that in 1999 in Berlin there was an agreement that CAP would last until 2006. This agreement did include a mid-term review to make a few adjustments but the midterm review proposed by Franz Fischler and the European Commission is more than just an adjustment, it's an important change in agricultural policy.

I am really disappointed because arable farming, we just get one crop each year so we can't make changes very quickly and for our investment we need a long-term perspective, so it's very difficult for me to manage with sudden changes.

I am really disappointed

Mr Langlois-Berthelot

The EU wants us to become more competitive in global markets, which can be a target, but at the same time their proposals tell us we have to respect an awful lot of new constraints concerning our practises, new regulations which will lead to an increase in cost of production. For me it's impossible.

If the reforms are set there will be big changes to farming in France. My farm will not last like it is now, it'll have to get bigger and bigger and bigger ad we'll have less and less farmers.

We'll have very critical financial situation in farming, if we have a long period to adjust we can probably deal with this but if not, a lot of farmers will have very big problems.

See also:

26 Jun 02 | Europe
22 Feb 99 | Greening the Cap
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