Bradford urges support for CAP

EUROPE needs a strong and vibrant farming and rural community, the Council of Europe was told in Strasbourg by Fine Gael Senator Paul Bradford during a debate on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Mr Bradford said that without that sense of community and strong rural ethos, much of Europe would be a social and economic wasteland.

He described British attitudes to the policy as biased, distorted, unfair and selective with the facts.

Mr Bradford said although the CAP drew 64% of the EU budget in 1990, that is now down to 48%, and will fall significantly over the next few years as a result of recent reforms.

“The Treaty of Rome provided for a five-point programme on agriculture to increase production, to ensure a fair standard of living for the farming community, to stabilise our markets, to ensure availability of supply, and to ensure that there are reasonable prices for the consumer. It has been successful on all those counts.

“All recent discussions on the various treaties, up to and including the most recent treaty on the constitution of Europe, agreed to keep those five aspects of agricultural policy,” he said.

The key to the new programme of EU support is one of direct payments to agriculture, removing the production-linked subsidies. It would be unfair and wrong to change what has been agreed at an EU level, said Mr Bradford.

On food quality, Mr Bradford said he firmly believes that the European farmer and the European consumer benefit from CAP.

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