The benefits of the Common Agricultural Policy for British farmers were outlined by EU commissioner Phil Hogan at the Oxford Farming Conference.
He said yesterday Britain will soon vote on membership of a reformed EU in a referendum and it was not for him to tell anyone how to vote.
He posed a question relating to a potential Brexit: “How would Britain, with a population of 60m, fare in negotiating with countries like China, with a population 1.3bn?”
Mr Hogan said Britain in the EU punches at a weight of 500m, almost twice the size of the US.
It could take the UK years to negotiate deals with Korea, Canada, and so on — deals the EU has already negotiated.
He said that Europe is a vital market for British produce and the UK exports more to Ireland than it does to China, Japan, Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea combined.
The EU accounts for 60% of the UK’s food exports and Britain’s rural economy is worth £200bn (€272bn) a year.
The food chain employs one in eight at work and contributes more than £100bn to the economy.
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