CAP reform: Doubts raised over progress

The NFU's new president, Peter Kendall, cast doubt over how well CAP reform has been going and warned that, while the changes being introduced were the most radical for a generation, livestock farmers had to make a profit or production would stop.

The fact is, he said, many were not making a profit. "Once we are out of long-term production, it's very difficult to get back in," he said. The full lifting of the beef export ban was a good signal, he said. "The resumption of beef exports is very, very important. The large purchasers will have to pay a market price because other markets will be open to us." Since a summit last autumn the signals have been there that the beef market is getting better, he said.

He welcomed David Miliband's first statements on agriculture since taking over at Defra (see MTJ 26 May) but spoke of challenges ahead, notably in shifting the focus of world trade talks away from just lowering tariffs to encompassing animal welfare and regulation.

Kendall slammed OFT chief executive John Fingleton over alleged remarks about competition policy, accusing him of being "one-dimentional".

He said he wanted young farmers to come into the industry but admitted that the sector, at the moment, was not a good place to be. There were opportunities, though. Organic branding of produce might well triple over the next few years. Local sourcing was another potential area of growth. But it is critical to reconnect consumers with British farming and food, and get them to buy into it.

He pledged: "The NFU wants to be bold and come off the fence, and say what needs to be said. We should not be afraid to challenge our partners, we will have to engage in making the industry better."