Page last updated at 18:58 GMT, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Debate on CAP reform

The Welsh Conservatives have called on the assembly government to form an united front with the UK government in negotiations over the future of European farming subsidies.

Andrew RT Davies AM said on 1 March 2011, that Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones AM should be "working to have an unified position" with the UK government in discussions over the future of the European Union's (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The UK government's Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman MP has called for major changes to the policy - a position rejected by the assembly government.

She is currently representing the devolved nations as agricultural ministers across the EU negotiate changes to the CAP in 2014.

"When you are negotiating in a forum of 27 ministers, we must make sure that we have the strongest voice possible going forward for Wales," said Mr Davies.

The assembly minister said the Welsh Conservatives "have shown that their loyalty is to the UK government rather than to Welsh farmers."

She added that, as one of the very few ministers in Europe calling for significant changes, the UK minister's voice "is weak because her position is so contrary to the other European states."

Ms Spelman has said that the policy distorts trade and called for the subsidies to have less emphasis on food production, and reward farmers who take steps to protect the environment.

The inability of farmers to make profitable returns from the market, results in the CAP typically contributing between 70% and 90% of farm business income in Wales - a position Mr Davies said was unsustainable.

Mr Davies attacked Ms Jones' ministerial record as an example of why Wales should follow the UK's lead in the negotiating table.

"Lets not forget, this is a minister that has delivered so far a failed environment policy with Glastir...she's been taken through the courts via her TB eradication policy and so she's hardly been able to actually deliver on the two planks she set up in her term of office.

"If I was putting my cards on the table, I'd put my cards on the table with the UK government any day," he said.

Kirsty Williams AM, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, agreed with the assembly minister that the CAP budget should be maintained.

"We can't underestimate the importance of getting CAP reform right for the rural economy," she said.

Read this in Welsh.

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